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Full text of "The blind man's creed, and other sermons"

THE 



BLIND MAN'S CREED 

AND 

OTHER SERMONS 



■■\r 



CHARLES H-; PARKHURST, D.D 

u 

Pastor 0/ the Madison Square Church, New York 



^0FC0. Vg _ 



FEB 34 1883 

° p WASHINGS 



NEW YORK 
ANSON D. F. RANDOLPH & COMPANY 

900 BROADWAY, COR. 20th ST 




COPYRIGHT, 1883, BY 
ANSON D. F. RANDOLPH & COMPANY. 



Edward O. Jenkins, 
Printer, 
20 North William St. 



NEW YORK : 



Robert Rutter, 
Binder, 
116 and 118 East 14th Street. 



\ 
*1 



CONTENTS. 



I. The Blind Man's Creed, .... i 

II. POSITIVENESS IN RELIGIOUS BELIEF, . .* 1 5 

III. Why I Believe that the Bible is the Word 

of God, 30 

IV. What is it to Believe on the Lord Jesus 

Christ? .49 

V. Promptitude of Faith, . . . . 63 

VI. The Call to Apostleship, .... 80 

VII. The Christian Warfare, .... 96 

VIII. Samuel, the Child-Christian, . . . in 

IX. Daily Bread, v 124 

X. Lead us not into Temptation, . . .138 

XI. Parable of the Sower, 153 

XII. Christian Appreciation of Little Things, 171 

XIII. Man's Unconscious Immortality, . . 188 

XIV. Blessed are the Pure in Heart, . . 205 

XV. No more Sea, 219 

XVI. Heaven, . . . . . . . 233 



I 



I. 



THE BLIND MAN'S CREED. 

" He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner, 
I know not ; one thing I know, that whereas 
I was blind, now I see." — JOHN ix. 25. 

THE text and context formed our morning's Bible- 
lesson. We found much in the narrative which, I 
am sure, prepossessed us in the blind man's favor. 
St. John was evidently interested in him. He has 
devoted to him an entire chapter ; which is excep- 
tional. Though a writer be inspired, we can, never- 
theless, tell what he enjoys and admires by the tone 
and detail in which he writes. An Evangelist, as 
well as a Gibbon, betrays his interest and his sym- 
pathies. An author's feelings break through between 
the paragraphs, and peep out from between the lines. 
It is so when Abbot writes the life of Napoleon ; it 
is so when St. John writes the life of Christ, and this 
little sketch of the blind man. 

In some unusual way the blind man appears to 
have been wrought into the plan of our Lord's min- 
istry. He had been born blind, and had remained 



2 THE BLIND MAN'S CREED. 

blind all those dark, weary, and lonesome years, in 
order that when Jesus passed along the way that 
morning he might be there ready by the roadside, 
and be healed by Him. There was something that 
made him a special candidate for divine mercy. He 
healed him without being asked to heal him. It was 
a fixed fact in the scheme of redemption that this man 
should have his eyes opened. All lives and events 
are wrought into that scheme ; only this man's more 
obviously so. 

It gives an added interest to the event that the 
blind man was the first confessor in the new kingdom. 
He was that sort of person that we should suppose 
our Lord would have found it particularly pleasant to 
do something for. He was ready to do what he could 
for himself, if what he could not do for himself the 
Lord would do for him. And so when he was told to 
go and wash, he went without making any words 
about it. Unlike Naaman, Willingness was one char- 
acteristic of him. Sturdiness was another. He spoke 
his mind, even though it cost him the accusation of 
heresy and the verdict of excommunication. His 
thoughts were distinct, and, therefore, his utterances 
were so. " One thing I know : I was blind ; now I 
see." Crisp thinking makes crisp speaking. 

The words of our text form a kind of confession of 
faith, a sort of creed. The man who uttered them 
was physically submitted to the power of Christ ; and 



l' 



THE BLIND MAN'S CREED. 3 

if we may judge from the issue, inwardly submitted to 
him also. This creed we shall, therefore, designate as 
a Christian creed. Some elements and peculiarities 
of it we shall spend a little time in considering. 

It is a short creed. " Whether this man be a sin- 
ner, I know not ; one thing I know : whereas I was 
blind, now I see. " One thing I know." A creed 
with one article. His whole mind and interest are 
gathered upon one fact. I know nothing else but 
simply this one thing, — I was blind, now I see. " I 
can see ": — that is his creed ; that is his confession 
of faith ; that is his catechism. Shorter catechism. 
Pretty soon we find his creed enlarging, but it all de- 
veloped out of this as its small and tense beginning. 
And. one reason why it could be so tense is that it 
was so small. We have very long creeds now, as com- 
pared with those that used to be spoken. It is no 
matter how long a creed is, indeed the longer the bet- 
ter, if only the man believes it — believes it, that is, as 
this man believed his. What is there that a Christian 
would not be capable of to-day if he believed the 
whole of the Apostles' creed or the whole of the 
Presbyterian confession of faith in exactly the same 
way that the man in our story believed his creed 
when he said, One thing I know ; I can see. This is 
no plea then against long creeds. If a creed is believ- 
ed (and by " believed," I mean, — taken hold of and 
appropriated by the whole intellectual, emotional, and 



4 THE BLIND MAN'S CREED. 

moral man), if a creed is believed, the longer it is the 
better; otherwise, the shorter the better. Creed is 
like stature, it has to be reached by the individual, 
by slow growth from a small beginning. 

There is some one thing that we shall believe first. 
Every actual creed of the individual, as of the Church, 
commences with one article, — "one thing I know." 
And the intensity with which we believe that will de- 
termine a good deal as to our power of believing more. 
The vitality of the seed will determine how much will 
come out of it. Every fire begins with a spark. Com- 
bustion is a contagion. Combustion generates com- 
bustion. I am interested less then in knowing how 
many things a Christian believes, than in knowing 
how much he believes a few things. A man believes 
effectively only so much as he believes easily. The 
intensity of light varies inversely with the amount of 
territory over which it is diffused. The intensity of 
faith varies inversely with the area of doctrine over 
which it is distributed. 

Some of us, I am sure, are trying to believe too 
much ; not more than is true ; not more than we 
ought to be able to believe sometime, either in this 
world or perhaps not until the next, but more than 
we have present inward strength for, more than 
thought can respond to or experience guarantee. 
We sometimes extinguish a fire by putting on too 
much fuel. Possibly the Church has been loading 



THE BLIND MAN 'S CREED. 5 

down the piety of Christendom with too much fuel. 
Possibly some of the infidelity current to-day is only 
the effort which smouldering Christianity is making 
to relieve itself of excessive pressure, and that a 
more ardent piety will presently be the result of it. 
Perhaps you have seen the fires in a burning brush- 
heap made brighter and hotter by having the top of 
the pile pushed over and the imprisoned and dis- 
couraged flames released. 

However this may be with society and Christen- 
dom at large, it is certainly the case with many indi- 
vidual Christians. If a man has been strenuously 
indoctrinated from his childhood, the time will be 
very liable to come (especially if he is a chinking man 
and lives in a questioning age), the time will be very 
liable to come when he will say to himself, " Why, I 
don't believe all this." And then as he begins search- 
ingly and sadly to explore himself, he finds that it is 
very little after all that he does believe — believe as 
our confessor did when he said, " I can see." It is a 
critical time with him. He begins throwing away 
his creed, one article of it after another. One stick 
of unkindled fuel after another is laid off, and he 
gets down very near to the bottom of the pile, very 
likely, before he finds an ember that is warm and a 
place that is bright. The spark is there ; that is 
what accounts for his earnestness. All depends on 
finding it, and cherishing it, and lifting off from it 



6 



THE BLIND MAN'S CREED. 



what smothers it, and tenderly and patiently over- 
laying it with the gentlenesses which so abound in the 
word of God. Everything depends on saving that 
last spark. The possibilities of immense heat are in 
some hearts in which the fire of faith has at some 
time burned very low. We must remember how 
much Jesus has to say in approbation of faith that is 
no more than a grain of mustard-seed. We must re- 
member how Paul said, " Him that is weak in the 
faith receive ye "; and that the man who was the 
first confessor of Christ began with a creed of only 
one article. 

Another peculiarity of this creed is that it was 
founded in experience. " One thing I know, that 
whereas I was blind, now I see." You notice how 
close the connection between the creed and the con- 
fessor. His creed was simply the statement in two 
words of a fact about himself, " I see." His creed 
was not separable from himself. It was wrought in 
him. His creed there would be no possibility of 
his forgetting. Whenever the sun shone or a star 
twinkled, he would feel his creed over again, " I can 
see." It is possible we might be perplexed, some of 
us, to tell what we believe, if we had not it in print 
to refer to ; experience can dispense with type. 
" One thing I know, I can see." We used to hear a 
good deal about men's experiencing religion. The 
expression is less common than formerly. Is the ex- 



THE BLIND MAN'S CREED. y 

pression going because the thing it stands for is 
going ? Perhaps there has been sometimes unwisdom 
and sometimes cant, even, in the way the words have 
been used. But, after all, " experiencing religion," 
as a phrase, is good. We can not afford to lose it. 
It is the statement of a basal fact. Christ works a 
work in me, and I feel it. That is " experiencing re- 
ligion." Experience is not always nor often so 
marked as that of the jailer, or of Saul ; but if Chris- 
tianity is a fact it is an experience ; and if Christ has 
wrought a work in me I feel it ; and if I am a Chris- 
tian I know it ; " whereas I was blind, now I see." 
This experience was really the starting point of all 
his Christian life. This experience is the soil out of 
which creed all grows. 

Even the truths of God, before they become my 
true creed, have got to be reproduced in the soil of 
my own thinking and feeling. A creed is like a tree 
that starts in a single stalk (one thing I know) and 
that goes on branching and dividing so long as it is 
fed at the root; fed by the Spirit and the Word. 
Men's faith is languid because their experience is 
languid. Men's creeds stand still because their ex- 
perience stands still. The creed of our confessor 
began with one article, but did not end there. Pretty 
soon we hear him saying that he believed that Christ 
was the Son of God. We get tired sometimes of be- 
lieving exactly the same old things in precisely the 



8 



THE BLIND MAN'S CREED. 



same old way. But our creeds will go on thickening 
and branching, just so long and so constantly as 
God's work in us goes on. Our creeds have got to 
come from out our experience of God, and not out of 
our prayer-book or our confession of faith. We shall 
be like the tree that has stood all the winter through, 
bare and waiting, and the spring comes and the airs 
are softened and the ground is loosened, and the sap 
flows, and pretty soon the tree feels that it is spring, 
inside as well as outside, and the buds start and the 
tree grows again. Creed is experience trying to put 
itself into forms of thought. Putting on leaves does 
not bring the spring, but the spring coming puts on 
the leaves. Creeds will be right enough so long as 
experience is right, and fresh and strong. Men's 
creeds will be well enough so long as their hearts are 
so alive that they keep outgrowing their creeds. 
That is a poor tree that looks and measures exactly 
as it did a year ago. He is a poor believer that be- 
lieves exactly as he did a year ago. 

It will follow from this, in the next place, that 
there will be something very personal, individual, and 
peculiar about each marts creed. Two living Christians 
can not believe alike any more than two trees can 
grow alike. It is an evidence of life when men differ 
doctrinally. Two posts made alike continue alike. 
Two trees beginning alike become increasingly differ- 
ent. I love to see well-marked characteristics of faith 



THE BLIND MAN'S CREED. 







in the members of the same Church. It betokens 
life. Two Christians never think alike, except as 
they neither of them think at all, but leave it to a 
third party to do in their stead. Excessive doctrinal 
quietness, either in the Christian or in the commun- 
ion, implies lethargy. It is only dead men that never 
turn over. If there is anything in which a man needs 
to be true to himself, and loyal to his individuality, 
it is in his religion. I wish we had in all things greater 
latitude allowed us for our personal idiosyncrasies. I 
wish there was less that was conventional in life. I 
wish that men and women could be themselves more 
largely than usage allows. I think society would be 
less monotonous and more luxuriant. But in religion, 
at all hazards, each man must have all the latitude 
that his individuality demands. A man must be 
himself in his faiths. 

This is one thing that makes our Bible so rich and 
varied. The writers received the influences of the 
Spirit, but did not throw away their personal pecu- 
liarities. Each book has its distinct style. The rays 
of divine light all become humanly tinged before 
they reached the page. Paul does not write like 
Peter, nor Peter like James. Mark tells his story 
differently from John, and John differently from 
Luke. The Holy Ghost is no enemy to personal 
peculiarities. Each man's experience will be charac- 
teristic, and so then must his creed be, that grows 



IO THE BLIND MAN'S CREED. 

out of his experience. Men, as a rule, are constitu- 
tionally one-sided, and this will make their experi- 
ence and their creed one-sided. Paul's theology is 
Pauline, Peter's Petrine. A man's proper creed is the 
name we give to his individuality, when inspired by 
the Holy Ghost. The majority of most men's char- 
acter is lodged in one particular bent. When such 
men become Christians, their experience localizes it- 
self in that bent, and their creed derives itself from 
it. The root of a man's ism is in his constitution. 
We can hardly dispute about isms then, more than 
about complexions. Men bring their ism with them 
when they come into the kingdom, and will retain it, 
we presume, when they go up yonder. It makes the 
Church rich, and will make heaven various. 

And now, by the way, is it not a splendid tribute 
to Jesus Christ, that we can each of us come to 
Him with our special peculiarity, and find exactly that 
in Him which will meet that peculiarity and satisfy 
it? Christ is like a mirror into which all mankind 
may look, and each man find his own face given 
back to him. There is only one Christ, but He is in 
this respect like the one sun which shines upon all 
objects, and gives to each what satisfies it and helps 
it to be at its best. No two alike, the sea not like 
the forest, the pebble not like the snow-flake, but 
each finding in the sun what helps it to be itself 
more excellently and perfectly. The poor man ob- 



THE BLIND MAN'S CREED. 



tains from Him what he needs, and the rich man. 
He satisfies the ignorant man and the scholar. He 
has made glad the old generations and the new. He 
answers the demands of the Fiji, and the Greek. 
There is nothing sectional about Christ, and Christ 
never gets to be old. 

Only one thing more that we notice about this 
creed is, that it does not embarrass itself with matter 
that is foreign to the main point. Whether he be a 
sinner or no, I know not ; one thing I know, that 
whereas I was blind, now I see. The point with him 
was that he could see, not how he could see, — vision, 
not the explanation of vision. The two things were 
very distinct to him because he had such a thrilling 
sense of sight. Seeing was the one only thing with 
him. He was filled with light and wrapped in light. 
It left no chance for hows and whys. Not till after 
sundown that night did experience of that splendid 
fact of vision fall down into philosophizings about 
the fact of vision. Philosophizing very often comes 
from the cooling down of experience. It is when 
the eye begins to grow dim that we commence study- 
ing the structure of the eye. It is the disordered 
functions of the body that drive us to our physiol- 
ogy- Sight does not consist in knowing how we see. 
Health does not consist in understanding the organs 
of the body, and salvation does not consist in know- 
ing how we are saved, 



i? 



THE BLIND MAN'S CREED. 



The anatomy of salvation is not our Christian con- 
cern. The physician can cure an ignorant man as 
readily as he can a scholar, because his medicine does 
not depend for its efficacy upon the intelligence of 
the patient. In the same way it is possible for Christ 
to be the physician of the ignorant man as well as 
of the scholar, because salvation consists just simply 
in being saved. A child does not need to be an ob- 
stetrician in order to be born, nor does acquaintance 
with the scheme of redemption help a man to be re- 
born. One thing I know, that whereas I was blind, 
now I see. I can not tell why it is that Christ can 
do so much for me. I do not understand what this 
being born of God is. I have very little idea how 
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are related to each other. 
But I know that something has come into history 
which' has wrought magnificent results there. I know 
that something has come into the hearts of indi- 
vidual men that has wrought magnificent results there. 
Sometimes I call it God, and sometimes Christ, and 
sometimes Holy Ghost. Sometimes one name brings 
it and sometimes another. But the great Being 
knows what is desired when it is invoked, and it 
comes and helps and leaves its power upon me, and 
fills me with strange strength. I do not know how 
Christ on the cross wrought the redemption of the 
generations that were to come, any more than I know 
how He threw a great backward light over the genera- 



THE BLIND MAN'S CREED. 



tions that were gone before. I know a few facts 
about Christianity, but it is pretty much all summed 
up in this, that I feel a good deal as did the man 
whose eyes had been opened ; whether he be a sinner 
or no I know not ; one thing I know, that whereas I 
was blind, now I see. I have thought about all these 
things some, but I do not know as all this thinking 
has really helped me very much to be a better Chris- 
tian. The mind falls back wearied, and then the 
heart cries out plaintively — 

" My faith looks up to Thee, 
Thou Lamb of Calvary, 
Saviour divine "; 

and there is quietness and strength. 

An American poet* has well rendered the story of 
our chapter in the following graceful stanzas : 

" He stood before the Sanhedrim : 
The scowling rabbis gazed at him. 
He recked not of their praise or blame ; 
There was no fear, there was no shame 
For one upon whose dazzled eyes 
The whole world poured its vast surprise. 
The open heaven was far too near, 
His first day's light too sweet and clear, 
To let him waste his new-gained ken 
On the hate-clouded face of men. 

" But still they questioned,— Who art thou ? 
What hast thou been ? What art thou now ? 



* John Hay. 



14 



THE BLIND MAN'S CREED. 



Thou art not he who yesterday 

Sat here and begged beside the way ; 

For he was blind. 

" — And I am he ; 
For I was blind, but now I see. 

" He told the story o'er and o'er ; 
It was his full heart's only lore. 
A prophet on the Sabbath-day 
Had touched his sightless eyes with clay, 
And made him see who had been blind. 
Their words passed by him like the wind 
Which raves and howls, but can not shock 
The hundred-fathom-rooted rock. 

" Their threats and fury all went wide ; 
They could not touch his Hebrew pride. 
Their sneers at Jesus and his band, 
Nameless and harmless in the land ; 
Their boasts of Moses and his Lord, 
All could not change him by one word. 

" I know not what this man may be, 
Sinner or Saint : but as for me, 
One thing I know, that I am he 
Who once was blind, and now I see. 

" They were all doctors of renown, 
The great men of a famous town, 
With deep brows, wrinkled, broad and wise, 
Beneath their wide phylacteries ; 
The wisdom of the East was theirs ; 
And honor crowned their silver hairs. 

" The man they jeered and laughed to scorn 
Was unlearned, poor, and humbly born ; 
But he knew better far than they, 
What came to him that Sabbath-day ; 
And what the Christ had clone for him 
He knew, and not the Sanhedrim." 



II. 



POSITIVENESS IN RELIGIOUS BELIEF. 

" This I say then, walk in the Spirit, and ye shall 
not fulfil the lust of the flesh" — Galatians 
v. 1 6. 

THERE are three moral facts readily to be derived 
from this verse. The first is the fact of man's nat- 
ural fleshliness. This idea of the flesh is a favorite 
one in Paul's mind, and therefore plays a large part 
in the letters he writes and in the sermons he 
preaches. 

Paul was like other preachers in this respect, that 
he had a few favorite ideas — hobbies, if only you will 
associate with the word nothing derogatory ; and 
these pet notions of his are continually working to 
the surface, and pushing themselves into notice, and 
his epistles are to a considerable extent merely ka- 
leidoscopic re-arrangements under which these few 
notions variously group themselves. 

Important among these is his doctrine of man's 
natural fleshliness. And by flesh he means consider- 
able more than body physically considered. Flesh 

(i5) 



1 6 POSI TI VENESS IN RELIGIO US BELIEF. 



with him is more than man's physical anatomy — an 
aggregate of bone, muscle, and blood ; more than 
man's physiology — an organism of bone, muscle, and 
blood. The flesh with Paul was the body in its con- 
nection with the unclean moral nature occupying the 
body ; flesh with Paul means the natural man — man 
in the condition in which he comes into the world 
and in the character into which he continues more 
and more to harden after coming into the world, up 
to the time when by conversion his natural tenden- 
cies toward evil have been confronted and overpow- 
ered by a new and divinely implanted set of tenden- 
cies toward what is good. 

This prepares the way for an allusion to the sec- 
ond moral fact of our text. The first fact is man's 
natural fleshliness, the second is man's acquired spir- 
itualness. "Walk in the Spirit and ye shall not fulfil 
the lust of the flesh," — fleshliness, spiritualness. The 
first natural, in the sense of coming along in the or- 
dinary and uniform process of events ; the second 
supernatural, in the sense of an interference with this 
ordinary and uniform process of events ; just as it is 
natural, lies in the nature of things, that your garden 
should be overspread with weeds. Remove from the 
surface of your garden this autumn everything in the 
shape of vegetation, and by next midsummer it will 
be clothed with a vestment of weeds of a hundred 
distinct genera and a thousand different species. It 



POSITI VENESS IN RELIGIO US BELIE E. j y 

is natural, lies in the nature of things that it should 
be so. 

And this nature of things will continue in force 
till it is supernaturally interfered with — until you go 
into your garden and revolutionize it, and adopt 
measures and set in operation forces looking to the 
repression of nature and the extermination of the 
weeds. Whether it is man in a garden or God in a 
soul, every energy is a supernatural energy that is 
able to interfere with the ongoings of nature or inter- 
rupt nature's continuity. It is the nature of your 
garden to be weedy, and a power above nature — 
yourself or your gardener — has got to enter into 
your garden and operate there before it can be any- 
thing but weedy. So it is the nature of a man to be 
fleshly, full of evil appetites criminally indulged, and 
a power above nature has got to enter into a man be- 
fore he can be anything but fleshly ; and the only 
such power we know anything of from Scripture or 
experience as fitted to do this work is what the apos- 
tle here calls the Spirit : " Walk in the Spirit and ye 
shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh." 

And this in turn paves the way for a statement of 
the third moral fact of our text. The first fact is 
man's natural fleshliness, the second his acquired 
spiritualness wrought by the Holy Ghost, and the 
third, and the point upon which we wish to dwell 
more at length, is that we do not cease to be fleshly 



1 8 POSI TI VENESS IN RELIGIO US BELIEF. 



by any direct attempt to be unfleshly, but only by 
our success in becoming spiritual. "Ye shall not ful- 
fil the lust of the flesh, if ye walk in the Spirit "; that 
we get out from under the dominion of the evil not 
by holding ourselves in a negative attitude toward 
the evil, but by holding ourselves in a positive atti- 
tude toward that which is the opposite of the evil. 

Now, this idea, so characteristic of the apostle, and 
so everywhere operative wherever progress is being 
made, either by the individual or by society at large, 
is an idea we shall spend some time in illustrating 
and applying — the idea, namely, that the most di- 
rect means of destroying one tendency is by strength- 
ening the tendency that is its opposite; the idea that 
the readiest method of crowding out what is bad is 
to crowd in what is good ; to labor for positive re- 
sults, and to widen out and build up positive results 
into a splendid monopoly. 

A very simple and homely illustration of this doc- 
trine would be the following : A little plot of ground 
two rods square was once put in my hands to clear of 
weeds. The prevailing weed was a tenacious one, 
and prolific — as weeds are. There was not an inch of 
that plot to which I did not devote special and inter- 
ested attention. Nor was my labor superficial. It 
took notice not only of the surface, but of the sub- 
soil, and, when I hung up my hoe and rake, the up- 
per six inches of the entire plot were as innocent of 



POSITI VENESS IN RELIGIO US BELIEF. 1 9 

all vegetation as a sand lot. This piece of ground 
lay quite near the house, had been a good deal of an 
offence to the eye, and I naturally congratulated my 
self, therefore, on the thoroughness of the work ; and 
the brown earth lay there the remainder of the fall a 
barren memorial of my fidelity. In the opening 
spring, that was the first spot in the neighborhood 
that gave indications of vitality; and throughout the 
spring there was no other four rods on any side of 
the house that showed such a tropical profusion of 
verdure, and the verdure was composed almost ex- 
clusively of those same old weeds or their lineal de- 
scendants. 

Now notice what I had done. My labor had been 
simply a labor of destruction. My ambition had 
been not to put something there that should be an 
ornament, but to get rid of something that was a nui- 
sance. I was working destructively, not constructively ; 
and laboring for negative rather than positive results. 
The next season, some one who understood such mat- 
ters better than I, cleared the surface of the ground, 
partially loosened up the soil, enriched it, threw in 
grass seed, and let matters work. And now that plot 
is as free of plantains and as rich in velvety turf as 
any plot need be. He worked constructively, labored 
for positive results, addressed all his energies to the 
work of establishing and encouraging there a growth 
of grass, knowing that if once he succeeded in crowd- 



20 POSITIVENESS IN RELIGIOUS BELIEF. 



ing grass in, the grass would succeed better than he 
with his sickle or hoe could do in the work of crowd- 
ing weeds out. 

This, I say, illustrates familiarly the general truth 
of our text, that we get out from under the domin- 
ion of the evil, not by holding ourselves in a negative 
attitude toward the evil, but by holding ourselves in 
a positive attitude toward that which is the opposite 
of the evil. You have seen a leaf sometimes in the 
winter clinging, brown and lone, to the bleak branch 
of an oak, and the sun plays with it, and the storm 
pulls at it and bruises it, and the winds scold at it ; 
but it defies their concerted assault and lingers into 
the spring, memorial of the summer that is gone, 
linking the two years into a kind of twinship, till as 
the mellow months begin again to recur, the sun and 
the storm and the wind leave pelting the seared leaf, 
and begin to wake up the life that had been slumber- 
ing in the tree ; and they moisten the roots, and warm 
the fibre, and stir the sap, and the buds begin to 
swell, and that one particular bud begins to swell, 
and the tired lone leaf flutters and falls. 

What the forces of the sky could not do wrestling 
directly with the dead leaf they were able in all ease 
and grace to achieve by stimulating the live branch. 
Encouraging the grass among the weeds, stimulating 
the branch among the dead leaves ; these illustrate 
in a picturesque way the position that it belongs to 



POSI TI V EN ESS IN RELIGIO US BELIEF. 2 1 



a man to take toward everything which is negative 
and false. Let the negative and false alone, and 
build up and encourage the positive and the true. 
Let disease be and seek only to intensify health. 
Let death be and go on enriching life. Let igno- 
rance be and encourage a larger wisdom. Let unbe- 
lief be and go forward constructing a stronger faith, 
and leave sin to drop like a weary leaf from the 
m branches, at the expulsive power of a tenser, holier 
and more positive devotement : " This I say then, if 
ye walk in the Spirit ye shall not fulfil the lust of the 
flesh." 

The power of a man over himself, and his power 
over others, accrues to him by virtue of his positive 
attitudes. And this I want to illustrate by a refer- 
ence (i) to his moral principles, (2) to his religious 
creed and consecration. 

First, his moral principles. The only staunch mor- 
ality is a positive morality, positive in the sense of con- 
structive, positive in the sense of consisting in loyalty 
to right principle instead of in antipathy to wrong 
principle. There is a difference between doing right 
and not doing wrong. One is turning our back on 
what is wrong, the other is turning our face to what 
is right. Viewed upon the surface, the two may seem 
quite alike ; considered more narrowly they are seen 
to be essentially distinct. Evidently it is one thing 
not to be poor, and another thing to be rich. It is 



22 POSITIVENESS IN RELIGIOUS BELIEF. 

one thing not to be a fool, and another to be a phi- 
losopher. It is one thing not to be a coward, and 
another thing, and a much finer and more substan- 
tial one, to be a hero. The man of whom you would 
think it a sufficient description to say that he is not 
a coward, is not the man you would put in the fore- 
front of the battle ; his muscles are limp ; the hero, 
his muscles are taut. On every battle-ground of 
whatever sort the victory is won by virtue of the • 
splendid thing that the combatants are, and not by 
virtue of the ignominious thing they are not. 

For the sake of an example let us apply our doc- 
trine to the moral principle of honesty. There are 
two sorts of honest men in the world. One sort is 
of those of whom ail is said that it is safe to say 
when they have been described as disinclined to be 
unjust. To the other class you have done justice 
only by describing them as suffused with a glow of 
admiration, and enkindled with a fire of consecration 
to all that is just in thought, word, or dealing. Now 
the latter is the only sort of honesty that it is safe to 
put in the thick of the fight that is everywhere wag- 
ing in society, the honesty that is positive and con- 
structive, the honesty, not that leans away from an 
unprinciple, but that kneels down and worships be- 
fore a holy principle, that knits and knots itself about 
an idea, and is fervent and radiant with a brilliant 
enthusiasm. That is the only honesty that is brave 



POSITIVENESS IN RELIGIOUS BELIEF. 23 

enough to govern a man's heart and dealings, the 
only honesty that is powerful enough to communi- 
cate to society new impulse along the line of integ- 
rity, the only honesty that we really have any heart 
to admire. 

Indeed it is just this positive self-devotement that 
lies at the basis of a certain admiration that we all 
have for stupendous rascality. We admire positive- 
ness and we can not help it. There is a certain mag- 
nificence about a staunch rascal that there is not about 
a limp saint. Nothing short of an archangel had 
sinew enough in him to degenerate into an arch-fiend. 
The splendor, mark you, is not in the deviltry, but 
in the whole-heartedness of the commitment to the 
devil. 

One great secret of the moral disasters constantly 
occurring, the shipwrecks of character that each daily 
issue of our paper brings to our notice, lies in just 
this negativeness of current morality. These default- 
ers, fraudulent cashiers and treasurers that an un- 
baptized press enjoys publishing as deacons and Sun- 
day-school superintendents, are not men that believe in 
unrighteousness, but men whose belief in righteous- 
ness has in it no positiveness or affirmativeness. They 
are not positively principled enough to be willing to 
die for their principles. 

Now there are young men in this community that 
are just moving out into the activities, responsibilities, 



24 POSITIVENESS IN RELIGIOUS BELIEF. 

and perils of life ; and with many of them the sum 
and substance of their morality is expressed in this, 
" I never do anything particularly bad." I have heard 
that substanceless credal negation a thousand times, 
and a man who is in that posture is on the direct line 
to his own self-foreordained destruction. It is so, 
always has been so, and we understand why it is so. 
The tree that is not rooted, when the wind comes, 
blows down. The vessel among the rocks that is not 
anchored, when the storm comes, goes to pieces ; and 
a barren negation, the empty absence of wrong-doing 
can no more hold a man upon his feet under the as- 
sault of sharp temptation, than a man can plunge his 
head in a vacuum and have his lungs impregnated 
with vital breath. 

And so in all friendliness and interested earnest- 
ness let me enjoin it upon you to abandon this 
negative morality, this irresolute sidling off from 
what is wrong, and crowd your soul and saturate 
your heaven-born energies with a trenchant affirma- 
tiveness, and a heroic, loyal self-devotement to prin- 
ciples that have about them substance enough to 
sustain you, tenacity enough to anchor you amid the 
wrenching of the sea and the straining of the storm. 
Our young men are perishing, falling before the 
scythe of temptation, not because they believe in 
what is wrong, but because there is in them no spirit- 
ed devotement to what is good. 



POSITIVENESS IN RELIGIOUS BELIEF. 2 $ 

Let us consider this principle, in the second place, 
in its relations to men's religious creeds. The pres- 
ent age differs from the one that preceded it, and 
differs also probably from the one that will come 
after it in respect to the sturdiness of religious con- 
victions. Skepticism, not in its primary sense of 
healthy inquiry, but in its secondary sense of diseased 
uncertainty, is the characterizing posture of current 
thought. Men used to doubt as a means of reach- 
ing conviction, and now they doubt for the sake of 
doubting, and with a larger number than we think, 
perhaps, " not to believe " is their only " creed." 

The point is not that men positively disbelieve ; 
that would imply a haleness and heartiness of tone 
that does not prevail. You ask almost any man you 
meet, on the street if he believes that some specific 
doctrine supposed to be taught in the Scriptures is 
true, he says " No ! " You ask him if he believes it 
is false ? " Well, I don't know as I can say that ex- 
actly! I don't believe much about it any way." It 
is not stout disbelief, but languid unbelief; and of 
the two, stout disbelief is far less difficult to deal 
with and make available. For if a man has moral 
earnestness and intellectual determination enough 
positively to disbelieve one doctrine, the same quali- 
ties will be likely to stimulate him to believe some 
other doctrine ; for tremendous disbelief with the 
thought fixed in one direction is likely to be equally 
2 



26 POSI TI V EN ESS IN RELIGIO US BELIEF. 



tremendous belief when the thought is turned in a 
different direction ; ^belief is only the obverse of 
dogmatism, but barren z/;/belief, loose-jointed and 
limp-limbed, like a torpid paralytic can not be counted 
upon for anything. 

It is a sort of malaria that is abroad in the world 
and in the Church, to be unpronounced in religious 
opinion ; and good men are drawn under the influ- 
ence of the tendency ; in conference meeting they 
let themselves down to the level of unbelievers by 
rehearsing their own unbeliefs, and parading their 
own instability and indeterminateness ; in the pulpit 
they strive to catch the ear and steal the confidence 
of negative congregations by loading their own dis- 
courses with negations. The conversation of people, 
especially of the younger and middle-aged portions 
of community, betrays a leaning toward that mode of 
presenting the truth of God that shall fall as near 
between something and nothing as it can, and save 
its character and preserve its equilibrium. Popularity 
in the pulpit and in the religious press is to a consid- 
erable degree synonymous with indeterminateness of 
doctrine, and with graceful, winning, rhetorical in- 
sipidity in stating that indeterminateness. 

Now I believe in a liberal theology, and in a 
broad platform ; but you are aware that the broader 
a platform, the more timber there has got to be built 
into it in order to sustain the larger weight to be put 



POSIT/ VENESS IN RELIGIO US BELIEF. 2 7 

upon it ; and so just because I believe in a broad plat- 
form, I believe in having it formed of colossal beams 
hewn from the sturdy positiveness of the Scriptures, 
and overlaid with planks spiked with the Bible's un- 
flinching affirmativeness. We are not pleading that 
a man should have a positive opinion about every- 
thing ; we only urge that he should be a man of opin- 
ions, a man characterized by a certain determinate- 
ness of conviction, and that as a Christian he must 
have about him a certain determinateness of religious 
conviction. Religion is a thing that if possessed, not 
only puts new stamina in a man's purposes, and new 
fervor in his emotions, but new tension in his thoughts ; 
it not only makes his heart more hearty, but his in- 
tellect more intelligent ; it is bound both to take the 
foulness out of his heart, and the eclipse off of his 
mind. 

The power of a great, holy, personal idea devoutly 
clung to is something immense in the sway that it 
usurps over the spirit and the life. What we call 
Christian self-control is less ^//"-control than it is the 
control of the fine truths, and the splendid impulses 
from on High that we incarnate. But we are set 
here not simply to control ourselves, but to exercise 
a measure of sovereignty over the hearts and lives 
that are adjacent, and the history that is contempo- 
rary ; and the men who have done that most grandly, 
have done it by virtue of the strong truths which 



28 POSITI V EN ESS IN RELIGIO US BELIEF. 



their lives embodied, which their activities proclaimed, 
and to which their hearts were devoutly consecrated. 
The men who have been a power to stir their fellows, 
to communicate profound impulses, to revolutionize 
society, to organize history, have been each of them 
some truth let down from God, clothed with flesh till 
it became visible, clothed with voice till it became 
eloquent, thrilled with power till it became triumph- 
ant. 

It was not the mere idea of genuineness, of moral 
and intellectual sincerity, that wrought so mightily 
among the skeptical and quibbling Athenians at the 
close of the fourth century before Christ ; it was not 
Socrates that did it — it was the idea become personal 
in Socrates ; it was Socrates wedded to the idea. It 
was not truth that inaugurated the Christian idea; 
nor was it God that inaugurated it ; it was truth 
come to its divine impersonation in Jesus Christ. It 
was no bare doctrine of faith and no mere man named 
Saul that laid the foundations of Christian theology ; 
rather was it Paul, that glorious offspring of Saul 
wedded to faith, who founded our theology for us. 

And whether in these broader or in our own more 
narrow spheres of influence and achievement man's 
working power, lifting power, as an agency of progress 
will vary with the strength and purity of his positive 
consecration to some everlasting truth that is from 
God ; and so, my hearers, all of us that are in any 



POSITIVENESS IN RELIGIOUS BELIEF. 29 

way interested (and who of us is not ?), all of us that 
are in any way interested in the truths of our Script- 
ures and in the historic facts of our religion and in 
Jesus Christ — the one fundamental fact of all, let us 
drop and cease to parade the hollow negations of our 
unfaith ; let us be done with publishing the brevity 
of our creeds ; let us cease advertising the irresolu- 
tion of our religious thought ; and in its stead, as we 
value our own moral weightiness, and realize that 
moral power varies with the splendor of the object 
to which we are yielded up in positive consecration, 
let us feel rather after whatever truths of God we do 
believe ; let us glorify them ; let us allow them to 
strengthen and glorify us ; and then, illumined with 
the light which they shall shed abroad in us, and clad 
with the might with which they shall endue us, will 
our vision gradually let itself into the fruition of a 
farther prospect, and our strength mount up to a 
higher and yet higher reach of advantage and of 
power. 



III. 



WHY I BELIEVE THAT THE BIBLE IS 
THE WORD OF GOD. 

" Be ready always to give an answer to every man 
that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in 
you" — i Peter iii. 15. 

The ability to state our convictions with clearness 
and completeness yields two benefits. It makes our 
convictions respected. There is persuasion in the 
forceful putting of a thought, and in sentences 
sharply drawn and well considered. Considerable 
of what passes as the weightiness of an opinion is no 
more than the gravity and dignity of its presentation. 
The effect of words, as of soldiers, can be trebled by 
their manner of marshaling. A word aptly chosen is 
an argument, and a phrase judiciously contrived a 
syllogism. " A word fitly spoken is like apples of 
gold in pictures of silver." It was the transparent 
terseness of the man born blind which so inconven- 
ienced the Pharisees. " I was blind, now I see." 
There was all there that was said, and more beside — 
a conclusion without its being stated. Here lies the 

power of proverbs, in their lucid brevity. 

(30) 



THE BIBLE THE WORD OF GOD. 



And so Peter would have his readers study to state 
their hopes and the grounds of them in an orderly and 
intelligent manner, and procure for their convictions 
in this way a respect, at least, among those whose 
opinions differed or even antagonized. There is an 
intellectual fascination about delineations of opinion 
done cleverly. And one step toward making your 
neighbor believe what you believe is to cast your 
opinion in terms that have in them flash enough to 
engage the eye and strength enough to put a nervy 
pressure on the mind. That was one design of Pe- 
ter's admonition, " Be ready always to give an an- 
swer to every man that asketh you a reason [that is, a 
reasonable account] of the hope that is in you." 

Another benefit intended was the effect which the 
rational statement of an opinion has in giving to that 
opinion firmer establishment in our own minds. A 
masterly exhibit of doctrine not only weakens the 
unfaith of opposers, but strengthens the faith of con- 
fessors. The most telling power of a word is in its 
reaction upon the speaker. It is profitable even for 
our own sakes to canvass on occasion the grounds of 
our convictions. Our religious beliefs are sometimes 
irresolute, because we do not know with precision 
what they are, nor with definiteness why they are. 
We are established by feeling the grounds of our es- 
tablishment. The boat drifts till it feels the pull of 
its anchor. We get a sense of stability by inspecting 



32 THE BIBLE THE WORD OF GOD. 

the means of our stability. If we are crossing a 
stream upon a bridge of ice or timber, even though 
assured of safety, we contemplate with earnest pleas- 
ure the massiveness of its icy or oaken beams. Even 
confidence loves to be reminded of the grounds of its 
confidence, and wins bravery from their review. The 
architect lets the buttresses and the broadened 
courses of basal masonry as far as possible lie out in 
the light. Such a disposition of facts satisfies the 
eye because it satisfies the mind. We get a sense of 
stability by inspecting the means of stability. 

And in pursuance of this thought it has occurred 
to me that we might be rendering a service to our- 
selves and to one another by rehearsing some of the 
grounds upon which rests our faith in the Scriptures 
as the word of God. And this less with an intent to 
influence such as reject the doctrine of their divinity, 
but more to the end of revealing to ourselves the 
structural lines of our own assurance, and suggesting 
some points around which our devout opinions, when 
controverted and assailed, might confidently rally. 

In the first place, we believe that the Bible is the 
word of God because we have been taught to believe 
so. We believe it because our parents believed it. 
Had they been disbelievers we should probably have 
been so also. Our convictions in their roots are reg- 
ularly hereditary. This is true of religious convic- 
tions, and none the less so of moral, aesthetic, and 



THE BIBLE THE WORD OF GOD. 33 

scientific ones. Doctrines of religion, of geography, 
of geology, of astronomy, lie at the same level in 
this respect. Everywhere we begin believing by be- 
lieving as we are told to believe. An opinion, like a 
blade of wheat, starts with something that has been 
simply posited. We believe in evolution till we get 
as far back as the seed, but the seed needs to be and 
to be posited. Planting goes before sprouting. The 
very first of our Lord's parables was the parable of 
the Sower. 

The young race away back in the old Eden-days 
had its faith taught to it. What God was to the 
young race, the parent is to the young child. Revealed 
religion has to be acted over again in a small, quiet 
way inside every household. The Bible itself teaches 
nothing more clearly, and stands by nothing with 
more of insistence. " These words which I command 
thee this day (upon Sinai) shall be in thine heart, 
and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy chil- 
dren." The child believes what with discretion and 
persistency he is taught to believe. The child's creed 
is the mother's creed, and with nothing at the start 
but faith in his mother to guarantee it. He sees 
through his mother's eyes, thinks in his mother's 
thoughts, believes through his mother's faith, and 
calls the Bible God's Book, because she taught him 
to, in all his thinkings, religious as well as otherwise, 
only nothing more than his mother's articulate echo. 
2* 



34 THE BIBLE THE WORD OF GOD. 

We believe in the Scriptures as the word of God 
because of their structure and interior harmony. The 
Bible occupied well on toward two thousand years in 
the course of its composition ; is made up of more 
than sixty distinct parts, contributed by as many as 
forty separate authors. These authors were drawn 
from every social condition, — kings, courtiers, shep- 
herds, fishermen, — and marked by every degree of 
mental attainment and endowment. Each author 
develops his own theme, preserves his own idiosyn- 
crasy, occupies his own stand-point, uses his own 
terms and phrases, employs his own grammatical con- 
structions, enriches his composition with his own dis- 
tinct graces of style, and stands before us in all his 
own rich and untrammelled individuality. And yet, 
writing at such intervals of time as to forbid con- 
spiracy and collusion, the result of their work is not 
many books, but one book, a book so intensely one 
as to receive from us the , designation, The Book. 
The Bible is, in all its parts, one in its aims, one in 
its principles, one in its characterizations of God and 
man. It writes in history and in prophecy, and 
yet enunciates the same truths ; in prose and in verse, 
but inculcates the same lessons ; is lyric and didactic, 
but falls into no contradictions. We have only to 
realize the ease with which men fall into differences 
of opinion regarding the nearest and most common- 
place matters, to appreciate how much is denoted by 



THE BIBLE THE WORD OF GOD. 35 

the harmony of Scripture writers in matters most 
reticent and profound. 

This accord of high idea running through a period 
of twenty centuries requires something for its expla- 
nation. There is nothing like it elsewhere. When an 
orchestra of forty musicians playing each his own 
special instrument, rendering, each of them, notes that 
are unlike those of any other player, and yet the 
whole orchestra producing associate effects whose 
distinction is their harmony and unity, we infer that 
somewhere some one mind has worked governingly 
upon these forty musicians, that they have severally 
taken their direction from him, drawn their impulses 
from him. We can not think of an harmonious re- 
sult without thinking of one master-mind as its 
ground. 

When we see forty masons engaged in putting up 
a building, each covering a small space of wall, and 
the structure daily growing under their hands into a 
finer and more meaningful perfection of form and 
serviceableness, it is an easy inference that some one 
mind in a comprehensive way covers the entire 
ground which each of these forty traverses in narrow 
detail. And still more impressive does the sov- 
ereignty of the master-mind over the workmen be- 
come, when, as in the instance of certain continental 
cathedrals, the structure has been built slowly up 
through centuries, and one controlling genius swept 



36 THE BIBLE THE WORD OF GOD. 

the entire interval of five hundred years from founda- 
tion to finial. 

And if the orchestral rendering presupposes behind 
it one creative mind that wrought^the oratorio ; and 
if the cathedral at Cologne, that oratorio in stone, 
implies the workings of a single genius, drawing walls 
and towers and spires into ripening grace and pro- 
portion, along the tired process of the centuries, will 
not the Holy Word, that finest music of the heart, 
that sublimest temple of thought, require for its com- 
position the presidency of a single genius, able to 
impress with his own thought, and inspire with his 
own mind, every workman that wrought upon it ? 

We believe the Scriptures to be the word of God 
because of the beneficent results they have achieved. 
The Bible is a book that works. It is the only book 
I know of that works. Other books sparkle, but this 
book lifts. Shakespeare does not lift. Shakespeare 
does not unaidedly make men better. Cast into a 
community of savages, his plays would not carry bar- 
barism by the breadth of a hair nearer civilization. 
Shakespeare does not sow the mind with new im- 
pulses, nor endue it with new energies. That is the 
prerogative of the Bible, and of books that have been 
directly inspired from it. Where the Bible is pres- 
ent the most operatively, there is the best civiliza- 
tion — witness America, Great Britain, Germany. 

It is hazarding nothing to say that, other things be- 



THE BIBLE THE WORD OF GOD. 



37 



ing equal, the political power and promise of nations 
is in direct ratio with their fidelity to the Word of 
God. When a pagan ambassador asked Queen Vic- 
toria the secret of England's national greatness, she 
gave him a Bible and said : " That is the secret of the 
greatness of England." In the Centennial letter 
which the President of the United States addressed 
to the American Sunday-schools, he said : " To the 
influence of the Bible we are indebted for all the prog- 
ress made in true civilization." Froude says in his 
essay on Calvinism : "All that we call modern civiliza- 
tion, in a sense which deserves the name, is the visible 
expression of the transforming power of the Gospel." 

And I want you to notice the peculiarity of the 
Bible in just this respect, that it offers us motives 
and constrains us to adopt them ; and it is the only 
book that is competent to do so. It comes to us 
clothed in light not only, but armed with power. A 
Brahmin said to the missionary, " What is it that 
makes the Bible have such power over the lives of 
those that embrace it ? Our Vedas have no such 
power." Another asked : " What is it that makes 
this Bible give such nerve and such courage to those 
who receive it?" It was a heathen enemy of the 
Christian religion that said : " In all our sacred books 
there is nothing to compare with the Bible for good- 
ness and purity and holiness and love, and for mo- 
tives of action." 



38 



THE BIBLE THE WORD OF GOD. 



i 



What I mean by the Bible as a working energy 
you will appreciate by a reference in a recent address 
of Sir Bartle Frere, who mentioned an instance that 
had been carefully investigated, where all the inhab- 
itants of a certain village had cast away their idols, 
abjured caste, and adopted a form of Christianity 
which they had worked out for themselves by study- 
ing a single gospel and a few tracts that had been 
left, along with other cast-off things, by a departing 
merchant. Where is a second book, uninspired by 
Scripture, that has demonstrated its inherent and un- 
assisted energy to take hold of life, grapple with it, 
transform it, regenerate it, and lead it out into the 
likeness of the life of God? 

We believe that the Bible is the word of God, be- 
cause, while it does not purport to be a revelation of 
natural things, it yet holds itself in such a relation to 
the material universe, that the discoveries of science 
seem never to go beyond it or put it to the blush. 
There is an honest flexibility in its utterances on 
these matters that, while it does not anticipate sci- 
entific discovery, finds room to receive into itself 
without stress or detriment all the disclosures that 
science is able to render. 

The difference between the Biblical cosmogony 
and the heathen cosmogonies in this respect is wor- 
thy of the Christian student's most delighted regard. 
Discovery in this way only makes the Bible more 



THE BIBLE THE WORD OF GOD. 39 

true ; causes it to glow with a greater wealth of il- 
lumination, as a diamond that is fitted to sparkle 
with a brilliancy varying with the intensity of the 
light that is poured upon it. 

Scripture seems to run around the outer margin of 
all possible discovery, and so to be true without being 
scientific. Examples are the description of the crea- 
tion, the hint as to the rotatory motion of storms, the 
revolution of the earth upon its axis, the dependence 
of the earth upon the heavens instead of the depend- 
ence of the heavens upon the earth, as taught in 
heathen systems and even in the Christian system till 
the time of Copernicus. " Canst thou bind the sweet 
influence of Pleiades? " God asks of Job. This would 
serve as a charming and inspiring illustration of the 
way in which Scripture coasts the outer margin of all 
possible discovery, if it shall prove, as has been by 
competent authority elaborately conjectured, that 
Alcyone, the middle star of Pleiades, is the cosmic 
center around which the whole starry host of the sky 
is moving its rounds in silent rhythm and inaudible 
song. 

Another reason why we believe that the Bible is the 
word of God is the extraordinary and indefatigable 
pains taken by men of obscure integrity to get rid of 
the Bible. The things that bad men hate, it will, as 
a rule, be safe for good men to believe in. Men's 
hearts stain through onto their philosophy. It never 



40 



THE BIBLE THE WORD OF GOD. 



ceases to be true that every one that doeth evil hat- 
eth the light, neither cometh to the light lest his 
deeds should be reproved. Light always shows the 
spots. Bad men congregate under the shadows. 
Men like to have the Bible vilified because it eases a 
little the pressure on their conscience. It is always 
possible to gather an audience to listen to an unbe- 
liever. Men do not want to believe, and are glad to 
hear the man that will meet them at the level of their 
wish. If they did not consciously stand beneath the 
Bible's reproof they would hardly have an interest in 
hearing it maligned. 

And we should win wondrous confidence in these 
staunch, sturdy Scriptures of God, if we could for a 
moment see this one volume standing up in all the 
serenity of its celestial powers, begirt by all the thou- 
sands upon thousands of panoplied books that have 
been sent out to beat it down. The strength of a 
champion is measured by the strength of the men 
that are needed to overmaster him. And yet there 
was never a time when the Bible stood more evident- 
ly sovereign of the field and sovereign of human 
hearts than to-day. The Bible has taken no detri- 
ment. The rents its enemies have made are hardly 
such as to reward the pains of their valor. As has 
been elegantly said : " They are like scratches on the 
stones of the Milan Cathedral ; like the breaking of a 
single pane of its pictured glass. The great struct- 



THE BIBLE THE WORD OF GOD. 41 

ure stands unimpaired, shining imperial in the serene 
Italian air." 

And then these destroyers of the Bible give us 
nothing in its place. They belabor the poor He- 
brews and scant fishermen who composed for us the 
Law and the Gospel, but never go about throwing their 
better wit and finer genius into the work of making a 
Gospel that is superior. It was a motto of Na- 
poleon's, " To replace is to conquer." These antag- 
onists of the Bible will have to give us something in 
place of the Bible before they can break the power 
of the Bible. And if they have the courage to crush 
the fulcrum on which civilization has pivoted for forty 
centuries, what is the meaning of their modest hesi- 
tancy in setting up something that shall make the 
abstraction good ? 

When St. Boniface had hewn down the sacred oak 
worshipped by the savages in the tangled forests of 
Germany he did not stop with destroying it, but, 
when it was felled, built out of its fallen and splin- 
tered fragments the chapel of St. Peter, and in the 
room of the worship of Thor the Thunderer left the 
worship of Christ the Crucified. " To replace is to 
conquer," and the theology of the forests fled back 
abashed before the theology of the cross. 

And so with these destructionists : let them show 
themselves constructionists as well. Out of the ruins 
of the old let them build us a comfortable little 



42 THE BIBLE THE WORD OF GOD. 

chapel of the new. It is but just ; it is but honest : 
it is but the rendering of an equivalent. Removing 
old support, let them give us something in its place 
that heart and mind can lean upon ; something that 
will go forward beautifying the home, purifying so- 
ciety, cultivating kindly relations among nations, 
holding men in proper relations with men, develop- 
ing character, repressing the baser passions, stimulat- 
ing the finer ones, creating in men peace and joy, 
robbing the death-chamber of its gloom and the 
grave of its shadow, and suffusing life with that beau- 
teous serenity with which the Word of God has been 
for three thousand years so triumphantly demonstrat- 
ing its power to do. And so I believe the Bible is 
the word of God, because bad men are so bad as to 
hate it, and brilliant wickedness incompetent to offer 
anything in its stead. 

And, once more, we believe that the Bible is the 
word of God, because of its universal adaptedness. 
Only He that made all hearts could produce a book 
that should go to the wants of all hearts. Other 
books have each their special circle of readers : there 
is the book for the wise man and the book for the un- 
taught ; the book for the civilized and for the semi- 
civilized ; the book for the child and the book for the 
adult ; the book for the scientist, for the philosopher, 
for the artist, and for the poet. These books belong, 
each of them, to some one stage in the unfolding of 



THE BIBLE THE WORD OF GOD. 



43 



history, or to some one aspect in the evolution of in- 
dividual mind and character. They are not world 
books. They smack of the age they were formed 
in. They are fraught with mannerisms of idea and 
expression. They do not run the whole gamut of 
thought and passion, nor address themselves to that 
in the reader which is present in every man. Only 
He who knows man could have made man a book. 
"I see," wrote Hallam, "that the Bible fits into 
every fold and crevice of the human heart. I am a 
man, and I believe that this is God's book because it 
is man's book." 

The Bible is thus as great as all men, and, there- 
fore, greater than any man. It is the Bible of the 
rich and of the poor, of the old man and of the child, 
of the rejoicing and of the sorrowing. It moistens 
the eye that is cold and pitiless, and wipes the tears 
from the eye that is overflowing. It startles the 
mind that is careless, and breathes a great benedic- 
tion of peace upon the mind that is tired and 
crushed. It is like a mountain standing out under 
the line and running up through all climes and bear- 
ing upon its broad beneficent slopes the produce of 
every zone. 

Into whatever quarter of the globe the Bible is car- 
ried, men find it a mirror into which they look and 
find the deepest things of their own hearts discovered 
and disclosed. When Dr. Chamberlain had read to 



44 THE BIBLE THE WORD OF GODr 

the natives of an East Indian city the first chap- 
ter of Romans, an intelligent Brahmin said to him : 
" Sir, that chapter must have been written for us 
Hindus ; it fits us exactly." After preaching an 
evening in the city of Lyons, Mr. McAll was ac- 
costed by a rude auditor, who, with tears running 
down his cheeks, said to him : " Never in my life 
have I heard the truth so explained. My conscience 
answers to it." That is what I desire you to notice, 
" My conscience answers to it." The Bible lays its 
finger easily on the hiddenmost thing in us. Of a 
truth " the Word of God is quick and powerful, and 
sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to 
the dividing asunder of soul and spirit and of the 
joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts 
and intents of the heart." 

It is this universality that makes it so easy of trans- 
lation into other languages. It is the only book we 
know that suffers in no appreciable degree by being 
taken out of its original dialect. It has been said 
that Shakespeare even, translated into French, is 
emasculated. And how would it fare with the mas- 
ter-pieces of English literature generally introduced 
into the vernacular of the Chinese, Madagascans, 
Patagonians, Fijis, and Choctaws? The Bible moves 
at such a pace that heart-beats the world over syn- 
chronize with it. It thinks in thoughts that all men 
think in, and sighs with longings that press upon the 



THE BIBLE THE WORD OF GOD. 45 

heart universal. And so the Bible has borne the cru- 
cial test, and, in the words of one deeply conversant 
with the work of Bible dissemination and translation : 
" From Greenland to Patagonia in the Western hemi- 
sphere ; from Iceland through Europe and Asia to the 
Japanese and the Australians in the Eastern ; from 
the Copts of Egypt to the Kafirs of South Africa; 
from the South Sea Islands of the Pacific through 
the oceans to Madagascar, the Bible has been ren- 
dered into their language with triumphant suc- 
cess." 

This adaptedness is shown by the uncounted num- 
bers of every clime and complexion that to-day ac- 
cept the Bible and believe in it as a heavenly oracle. 
Among the English-speaking world there has never 
been so great a literary sensation as the issuing of 
the new Revision of the New Testament Scriptures. 
We believe more profoundly because others are be- 
lieving so numerously. The Bible never had such a 
hold upon man at large as to-day, and there is noth- 
ing to account for its stately march of triumph but 
the Godhood that is in it, and the waiting needs 
of men that find themselves gloriously replenished 
in it. 

And there are wants innumerable that the Bible 
meets which no development of science, carried to 
whatever extreme, can avail to do. There is a vast 
area of passions, penitences, remorses, and aspira- 



46 THE BIBLE THE WORD OF GOD. 

tions which the progress of science will never inter- 
sect, however far her researches be pushed and to 
whatever point her advances be prolonged. Science 
moves at a different plane, and, with her glass ad- 
justed to traverse the ground, can not sweep that 
zone of sky where are constellated the soul's higher 
affiliations and appetences. Science can neither sat- 
isfy these appetences nor wash them away. It is 
Tyndall who says in the Fortnightly Review, " Relig- 
ious feeling is as much a verity as any other fact of 
human consciousness, and against it, on its subjective 
side, the waves of science beat in vain." 

The Gospel can be replaced only by a better Gos- 
pel, and science is no Gospel. It teaches not one of 
those elements that are finest in manhood, or that 
make manhood worth our while. It is as has been 
so excellently written, " Whatever the advances of 
modern science, there will still be the poison of sin 
which no earthly antidote can neutralize ; there will 
still be the sorrow of bereavement, to be solaced 
only by the vision of the angel at the door of the 
sepulchre ; there will still be the sense of loneliness 
stealing over the heart, even amid the bustle of the 
world, to be dispelled only by the consciousness of 
the Saviour's presence ; there will still be the spirit 
shudder at the thought of death, which only faith in 
Christ can change into the desire to depart and to be 
with Him, which is far better. For these things sci- 



THE BIBLE THE WORD OF GOD. 47 

ence has no remedy and philosophy no solace ; and, 
strong in its adaptations to these irrepressible neces- 
sities of the human heart, the Gospel of Christ will 
outlive all philosophical attack and survive every form 
of scientific belief." 

And so the Gospel has established for it a certain 
future, if for no other reason, in that it touches life at 
a deeper point than all logic or philosophy. The cur- 
rents of religious sentiment run at a lower level than 
the currents of scientific thought, and, therefore, logic 
can not reach down to cut religion's springs. And so 
the results of science can not displace the Bible any 
more than a lever can pry the sunshine from the 
ground, or a broom brush the rainbow from the sky. 
The irrepressible sunshine gilds with splendor the 
very lever with which you seek to dislodge it, and 
saturates with drops of iridescence the very sponge 
with which you seek to wash the sun-picture from 
the canvas of cloud. And so we shall expect to go 
on hearing every little while of Ingersolls who can 
not conclude a tender eulogy at the grave-side of a 
loved brother without setting just ajar the door that 
swings into a beauteous immortality, and of Littres 
who have lived lives of staunchest materialism, but 
unable to lie down to their last sleep, till — they have 
received the sacrament ! 

Into the deepest spaces of our spirits may the dew 



48 THE BIBLE THE WORD OF GOD. 



of the heavenly Word distill ; working in us all kinds 
of inward freshening, cleansing, sweetening, and 
accomplishing that holy quiet and profound satisfac- 
tion that shall argue to our souls with full persuasive- 
ness the Bible's grace, wisdom, power, and DIVINE- 
NESS. 



IV. 



WHAT IS IT TO BELIEVE ON THE LORD 
JESUS CHRIST? 

"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ." — Acts xvi. 31. 

To any who may be in honest perplexity as to the 
true nature and character of Jesus Christ, a careful 
and searching study of the gospels will discover, be- 
yond any possibility of mistake, what it was, at any 
rate, that Christ professed and pretended to be. 
There is nothing more clearly deducible from any 
extant biography of anybody anywhere, than that 
the man whose life is written out in four narratives 
at the beginning of the New Testament, at least 
claimed that he was the Son of God. 

This in itself proves nothing, yet has very direct 
and significant bearings. It is indeed an exceedingly 
important point gained when a man settles squarely 
and firmly into the position of believing that Christ 
intended to have it understood that He was divine, 
in a sense unique and peculiar ; in a sense that set 
Him at a distinct remove from every other man ; in 
such a sense that His will was God's will, His power 
God's power, His hatred of sin God's hatred of sin, 
3 (49) 



5o BELIEVE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. 

and His love God's love. And I can not understand 
how any man can suppose that Christ had any other 
intention in the matter, provided only the records 
that remain to us of Him be consulted by us with 
thoroughness, honesty, and an intense desire to get 
at the facts. 

Evidently enough, then, if He was what He claimed 
to be He was the Son of God. Now if He was not 
the Son of God, He claimed to be, all the same ; and 
how are you going to get along with those claims and 
explain them? It is evident at a glance that if His 
claims were false they can be explained only on the 
ground of His lunacy or His knavery. No other 
alternative remains. He was continually asserting that 
He was divine. If He was not divine, He deceived 
others purposely, and was a consummate liar, or He 
unintentionally deceived Himself, and was a helpless 
lunatic. So that there are only three things that 
you and I can think of the man of the gospels, either 
that He was a maniac, or a villain, or the Son of 
God. 

Now there are some statements that are in them- 
selves an argument ; and that is one of them — major 
and minor premise and conclusion, all packed into 
one clause. And I do not think that I am venturing 
too much in assuming that that way of putting the 
matter has been weighing as an argument on some 
of these minds during the week past. I pray God 



BELIEVE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. 51 

that it may have been so, and that there may be some 
here this morning upon whose minds divine light has 
broken along the lines and sentences spoken here a 
week ago ; and that there are some here who a week 
ago were tangled in the meshes of honest uncertainty, 
who, if the question of last Sunday were put to them 
again, " What think ye of Christ ? " would be ready 
to answer with all the intellectual strength, at least, 
that is in them, — I think that He is the Son of God. 

To these, and to all others who have gone so far, 
but no farther, I come now with my text out of the 
book of the Acts of the Apostles, — " Believe on the 
Lord Jesus Christ." To think that Christ is the Son 
of God is one thing ; to believe on Him in that char- 
acter is another. The first is only an affair of the 
mind ; the second is a personal matter, and means 
getting into personal connection with Him as the 
Son of God. 

Now this is no fanciful discrimination between 
words that mean the same thing. It is using these 
words with exactly the same distinction that we 
make between them in matters that are secular. You 
say of a certain physician that you think he is a skill- 
ful physician. That means only that you have ar- 
rived at a cool and intelligent conviction of his medi- 
cal ability. You say of another physician, " I believe 
in him." That means that when you are sick you go 
to him, and when your wife and children are sick you 



52 BELIEVE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. 

put them under his care. It is a more personal mat- 
ter now ; it is an affair now of getting into direct 
connection with him. You may never have gone to 
the trouble of thinking the difference all out, but you 
feel the difference the instant it is stated, and you 
know that you are using the words continually with 
just this distinction. 

Or take another illustration. You say in regard 
to a certain life insurance company that you think it 
a good and safe company. That only means that 
you have examined, more or less carefully, its finan- 
cial status, and have familiarized yourself in a degree 
with its methods of administration ; in consequence 
of all which a clear conviction has shaped itself in 
your mind, that it is a good and safe company to in- 
sure in. And yet while thinking all that, you may 
say in regard to some other institution of insurance, 
" But the company that I believe in is, so and so." 
Which means not only that you think that this sec- 
ond company is a good and safe one in which to take 
out a policy, but that it is the company where you 
have gone and taken out your policy ; and the man 
who hears you phrase yourself in that way will infer 
certainly that you stand yourself in a personal rela- 
tion to the concern, and nine times out of ten he will 
think right. 

" Believing in " or " believing on " always has 
wrapped in it that idea of personal relation and direct 



BELIEVE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. 53 



conviction. So that when Paul said to the jailer, 
" Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be 
saved," the matter did not stop with any opinions 
the jailer may have had of Christ — it comme7iced there 
undoubtedly, but it stopped only with the act of 
coming into direct personal connection with Christ 
as his Christ. It was with the jailer as it was with 
Thomas after the Resurrection. Thomas thought, 
and balanced, and deliberated, and finally became 
convinced that the man that stood before him with 
the nail-prints in his hands was indeed the same 
Christ he had walked with aforetime and seen cruci- 
fied, but on the instant of the conviction his heart 
shot clear ahead of his conviction, and he cried out : 
"My Lord and my God." He commenced with 
thinking, which was quite right, and sound, and pru- 
dent ; but when he had just reached the point of 
turning around and saying to Peter and the rest of 
them in a settled and philosophical way, " I think 
that this is all so, and that Christ has indeed risen," 
his cold mental conviction flashed forth into a hot 
cordial flame of intense personal faith and self-com- 
mitment, and forgetting all about Peter and the rest, 
he threw himself before the Lord in deep recognition, 
loyal devotement, and absolute surrender. 

And that is why I feel always to make so much of 
Thomas' ejaculation as a true Christian creed. It 
was not a statement of what he thought about Christ, 



54 BELIEVE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. 

but of what he felt to Him. It is so easy by com- 
parison to think all sorts of correct things about 
Christ ; to think about Christ that He is the Son of 
God ; to think about Him that He came on earth to 
be to us wisdom, and salvation, and authority, Proph- 
et, Priest, and King; but it is such another thing 
to come to our Lord in Thomas' direct and personal 
way and say, " My Prophet, my Priest, my King ! " 

I can conceive of some one of you whose heart has 
not quite moved out into this matter yet. I can con- 
ceive of some such one thinking with all theological 
keenness and accuracy along the lines of Christian 
doctrine, accepting our creed, and even repeating it 
aloud in tones that are clear, strong, and confident — 
saying among other, " I believe in God the Father 
Almighty, maker of heaven and earth ; and in Jesus 
Christ His only Son our Lord." But just imagine 
how different a thing it would be for such an one to 
go quietly and stilly into his own closet, and kneel- 
ing down in the silence where only God is, to speak 
to God the same words that in the great congregation 
he had just spoken about God : " I believe in Thee, 
O God, my Father Almighty, maker of heaven and 
earth ; and I believe in Thee, O Christ, the Father's 
only Son, my Lord." Exactly at that point is the 
rub with so many of our dear friends. Their utter- 
ances in regard to Christ, their thinkings about Him, 
have in them all the ring of the Scripture, and the 



BELIEVE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. 55 

very flavor of orthodoxy in all its refinement. But 
thinking about Christ with calculating and elaborate 
accuracy is world-wide removed from believing on 
Him in warm attachment and loving acknowledg- 
ment. 

Let me use another illustration. I want that this 
thing should not only be drawn in clear lines to your 
intellectual regard, but that it should as well be 
pressed close to your heart-appreciation. Supposing 
you are the father of a family of children, and that 
one of these children, more astute than the rest, 
draws up a document setting forth in studied and 
polished phrase his estimate of you in your paternal 
capacity. We will assume that in your relation to 
them you are all that a kind, and wise, and helpful 
father ought to be, and that they are quick to dis- 
cover the discretion, tenderness, and fidelity with 
which you meet the obligations that the fatherly re- 
lation imposes. And accordingly, one of the older 
and more clever members of your family, in behalf of 
his younger brothers and sisters, formulates his opin- 
ions of you, and puts them down in black and white, 
somewhat to this effect : " We, children of so and so, 
believe in our father as a kind friend, and an ample 
provider. He daily shows himself quick to anticipate 
our desires, and generous and gracious to meet and 
answer them. We believe in him as a trustworthy 
counsellor and teacher. His wisdom has always shown 

to 



56 BELIEVE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. 

itself adequate to our ignorance, and suited to our 
extremest exigency. We believe in him as one that 
is suited to rule and direct us. We have always 
found that we did what was best for ourselves when 
we did what conformed most closely with his ex- 
pressed wish." And so on. And then we will sup- 
pose that when this little creed — we might call it — 
has been drawn up, copies of it are distributed around 
among your offspring, and that they set about learn- 
ing it, committing it to memory. We will suppose 
that notwithstanding all this trouble they are putting 
themselves to, they nevertheless take always good 
care as far as possible to keep out of your way. They 
are bright children, but they never do or say anything 
that leads you to suspect that they have any heart. 
They never seem sorry when you go away, and show 
no symptom of being glad when you come home. 
They never express any gratitude to you for what 
you do for them, but take what you give them as a 
matter of course. They never come to you to ask 
you to forgive them when they do wrong, but take 
it for granted that you forgive, and that this is part 
of what you are for. And yet all this time they are 
going about with those little stilted creeds in their 
pockets learning them as fast as ever they can, and 
after they have got them thoroughly committed, once 
a week, or such a matter, they all troop off together 
into some out-of-the-way room in the house, and 



BELIEVE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. 57 



stand up together like boys in a spelling class, and 
repeat their little ritual about their father being a 
kind friend and ample provider, and the rest, and 
then think that all that elaborate and artistic mum- 
mery constitutes them grateful and affectionate chil- 
dren. Now if you, as a father, should get on the 
track of such a silly bit of formulary, would it not be 
your prayer to God that your children would dis- 
pense with this pen-and-ink devoutness of theirs, and 
once in a while come right to you and print a warm 
kiss on your cheek, and take hold of your hand in 
that grasping and hearty way that means so much, 
and tell you, face to face and eye to eye, that they 
love you, and that they feel all the time how good 
you are to them, and how kindly you protect them 
from harm, and lead them in the way that is best for 
them ? 

Well now, my friend (if you will not be offended 
at the saying of it), you are playing exactly the part 
of those little amateur liturgists, when you try to 
make the saying of correct things about Jesus Christ 
take the place of saying and feeling the same things 
directly to Him. You have no objections to your 
boys' going up-stairs and reciting pretty things about 
you. But you have the feeling very properly that he 
is not much of a son unless he comes down-stairs 
sometimes and says filial things to you. 

I am not making light of creeds. It is a good thing 

3* 



58 BELIEVE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. 

to know what we think about Jesus Christ, and to be 
able to state it in apt phrases, and it is a good thing 
for a congregation from time to time to repeat its 
creed together; it gives us a sense of fellowship in 
our faith. But our Christianity does not consist in 
the way in which our minds stand affected toward 
the truth of Christ, but in the way in which we stand 
affected toward Christ. The essence of the matter 
is the direct personal cordiality between you and 
Him exactly as between your son and you. 

But if I have not succeeded in expressing the dif- 
ference between the two in a way that makes it pal- 
pable to you, and you want to have it made palpable 
to you, I have only to recommend what I have 
recommended already, that when you go home you 
retire to your closet, and upon your knees pray 
directly to God some of those same expressions which 
you find it so easy to repeat as a part of your creed 
about God, and observe the difference. You feel this 
matter of coming into direct personal relation to God. 
It means vastly much that a man is brought to his 
knees, for it means that for the time being philoso- 
phy is displaced by religion, and that God is trans 
formed from a fact far off to a person near by. Prayer 
is the dividing line between philosophy and religion. 
Our nice thinking about the things of God is all of it 
philosophy up to the point of kneeling. When the 
Lord would convince Ananias that Saul had become 



BELIEVE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. 59 

converted to Christ, he said of him: " Behold, he 
prayeth." 

I remember very well the case of a man who had 
hard work to give up his will to God. I said to him : 
" Why not kneel and ask God to help you ? " " Oh ! 
no ! kneeling and asking would be to yield the whole 
point." He had a clear head, and was well instructed 
in the truths of our religion and thoroughly per- 
suaded of them. He was willing enough to say of 
Christ : " He is the Saviour "; but it was two days 
before he would say to Him : " My Saviour." 

Now, by all this long variety .of illustration is 
shown the difference between thinking that Christ is 
the Son of God, and believing on Him as the Son of 
God. One is a matter of the head, and in point of 
character, impulse, and the like, leaves us just where 
it finds us. The other is a matter of the heart and 
life, and takes hold on the life everlasting. " Believe 
on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved." 
Now, my dear friend, no human influences are going 
to make you take this step, and compel you upward 
from the merely doctrinal position of thinking that 
Christ is the Son of God, to the Christian position of 
believing on Him as such, and personally loving, and 
living close to Him and serving Him as such. Even 
God is never going to compel you to take the step. 
All that I can do, or all that any teacher of God's 
truth can do, is to put the case in clear, firm lines 



60 BELIEVE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. 

directly before your eye. The matter of taking steps 
is your matter, not mine, not God's, but yours purely 
and simply. 

The words of our text are not, it is true, Christ's 
ozvn words, but we have words to exactly the same 
import that are His, and that are spoken by Him in 
one form or another over and over again, so that 
there is no mistaking Christ's intention in the matter, 
as when Christ says in the third of John, God so loved 
the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that 
whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have 
everlasting life. And if you have looked with any 
studious carefulness at Christ's words as they are 
scattered through the Gospel, you know that believ- 
ing in Him is just what it has this morning been rep- 
resented as being. Everywhere Christ is seen trying 
to draw men right close to Him, just as you try to 
draw your little son close to you. " Follow me," He 
said to one and another. " Come unto me." 

He does not go around with difficult propositions 
for men to repeat after Him. He never wrote out 
anything for men to swear by after He had gone. 
The only thing He ever wrote, so far as we know, 
was what He wrote on the ground while the Phari- 
sees were waiting for Him to pass judgment on the 
woman that was a sinner; and that we have no clew 
to. And there is significance in that. He wanted 
men to believe just simply on Him. Paul did not 



BELIEVE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. 6l 



write to Timothy, " I know what I have believed," 
but " I know whom I have believed." And in reading 
Paul's life as it is sketched in the Acts, and as hints 
of it are afforded in his letters, the appreciative stu- 
dent is all the way clearly reminded how completely 
in Paul's experience and esteem Christianity was all 
summed up in having his own life possessed and mas- 
tered by the life of Christ. " For me to live is 
Christ." " I can do all things through Christ which 
strengthened me." " The life which I now live I live 
by faith of the Son of God." If you object that 
about all such language there is a great deal of heat 
and mysticism — no great heat or mysticism about it ; 
only about the same that exists in the relation that 
you want should obtain between your child and you. 
You want to be inspiration to your child in his incer- 
titude, do you not ? and impulse to him in his pur- 
poselessness ? and strength to make good his weak- 
ness ? and wisdom to supply the defects of his under- 
standing ? You are never staggered by that sort of 
mysticism. Nothing would please you more than to 
know that the life which your little child now lives 
he lives by faith in you. He is no true child unless 
he does live in that way, and you no true Christian 
unless in your life you lean on Christ, and draw from 
Him and live in Him in the same way, believing what 
He says because it is He that says it, resting in His 
salvation because it is He that has wrought it, and 



62 BELIEVE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. 

doing what He bids because it is He that Has com- 
manded it ; thus standing to Him hourly in what our 
catechism excellently designates as His threefold office 
of Prophet, Priest, and King. 

Now, dear friends, my address to you has been to 
one, as we assumed at the outset, who thinks that 
Christ is God's Son, in such a sense that what Christ 
commands is God's own command. Now there is 
nothing clearer in the gospels than that Christ calls 
upon you at once — to-day, now — to believe on Him 
in exactly that way in which belief on Him has been 
this morning represented to you ; that you should 
cease barely thinking that He is God's Son, and that 
you should come to Him and give up to Him, and 
walk with Him, and lean upon Him, and serve Him. 
God, then, who holds the universe in His hand, says 
to you this instant, " Believe on my Son." There are 
you, there is the command freighted with all the 
might and all the love of the Omnipotent Father. 
Dear friend, you stand this instant face to face with 
the God of all the worlds ! Settle it now ! I am an 
ambassador for Christ, as though God did beseech 
you by me. I pray you in Christ's stead be you rec- 
onciled to God ! 



V. 



PROMPTITUDE OF FAITH. 

" Then saith He to the man {with the with- 
ered hand), Stretch forth thine hand. And 
he stretched it forth, and it was restored whole, 
like as the other" — Matthew xii. 13. 

If the man in our story had stopped to think a 
moment, he most certainly would never have done as 
our Lord bade him. It was required of him to do a 
thing which, from the very circumstance of the case, 
he was without power to do. His infirmity was in 
the nature of paralysis, most likely, and, as such, in- 
volved the powerlessness of the member affected. 
The command put upon him was out of proportion 
with his resources for obeying it ; and the longer his 
mind dwelt upon it, the greater that disproportion 
would have been felt to be. The command was 
quite without reason, as that word reason gets used 
by us, and the more diligently he conferred with him- 
self upon the matter, and the more his conclusions 
were determined by the canons of correct reasoning, 
the more conspicuous would its unreason have be- 

(63) 



64 PROMPTITUDE OF FAITH. 

come. It was in a sense unreasonable, and yet the 
Lord enjoined it. It was in a very true sense impos- 
sible, and yet the man performed it. 

That he did not wait to consider the case nicely 
and analytically will easily be seen to have been the 
saving of him, at least the saving of his palsied hand. 
Had time been given or taken for reflection, his first 
thought would have been : " I am told to do a thing 
for which the prime condition is wanting. Stretch- 
ing forth my hand implies muscular energy, and that 
precisely is what I have not got. The lack of it is 
exactly the thing that is the matter with me." And 
the longer he thought about it, the more clearly 
would his conviction shape itself, the more apprecia- 
ble his muscular impotency become, and the more 
impossible, therefore, anything like compliance with 
Christ's command. 

This seems like an attempt to impeach accurate 
thinking. It is generally assumed that careful think- 
ing, deliberate thinking, is always in place. We make 
of it a virtue sometimes, and accept it as a hopeful 
symptom in others that duty is scanned by us or by 
them with such deliberate and painstaking careful- 
ness. The man reflected upon in Luke's gospel for 
going about to build a tower before counting the 
cost of it has been, ever since Christ told the story, 
a standing argument for chronic indecision. Had 
the man in our text, however, confronted his obliga- 



I. 



PRO MP TITUDE OF FAITH. 65 

tion with any such fastidious calculations and compu- 
tations, he would never have had his withered hand 
restored whole like as the other. 

Thinking is sometimes beneficial, but in certain 
matters is quite as likely to be detrimental. It some- 
times leads us directly toward the truth and into the 
truth ; at other times the more we think and the 
more logically we think, the further astray we get. 
This explains the fact that not many wise men are 
called. It is the very instinct of learning to leave out 
every question to the arbitrament of close thinking. 
Wise men, learned men never enter the kingdom of 
heaven till they have learned so to distrust and re- 
sign their thinking powers as to come into the king- 
dom precisely as children and other untaught people 
come in. If the man in our text had been a scholar, 
his thought most likely would have risen up in in- 
stant protest against Christ's command. Had he 
been a physicist, had he in particular been an anat- 
omist, he could hardly have been healed. He would 
have thought too much. He would instantly have 
fallen into reasoning upon the utter anatomical and 
physiological impossibility of a withered hand stretch- 
ing itself out ; and such thinking would have been 
ruinous. Thomas was constitutionally a thinker. 
He left conviction to be determined by thinking. 

It is here that religion and science break fellowship. 
Science thinks everything out. Thought is from its 



66 



PROMPTITUDE OF FAITH. 



very nature surgical ; it cuts in pieces. It is analytic, 
and unjoints and unhinges. Suppose that you are in 
the presence of a speaker that powerfully affects you. 
You realize his hand upon you and his mastery over 
you. This wakes up your inquisitiveness, and puts 
you upon asking the secret of his power, its elements. 
Thought begins at once to show how surgical it is ; 
and before the speaker's address is completed you 
have his oratorical talent accurately and elegantly 
dissected ; such a percentage due to figure, such a 
percentage to manner, to matter, and the rest. And 
yet the process of analyzing his power has, so far as 
relates to you, destroyed his power, and you go home 
with the pocketed ingredients of his power when you 
might have gone home with an inspiration. You 
thought too much and too nicely. 

If that is your mental habit, had you been one of 
the Twelve, you would have been Thomas, and gone 
feeling after the nail-prints. Had you been the man 
in our story, you would have been arrested by the 
physical absurdities of the situation, and paid for 
your thoughtfulness by the impotence of your unre- 
stored hand. For a man to do a thing that he has 
not in him the power to do is to all appearance a 
break in the logical thread, and while you were in- 
vestigating the break or trying to tie together the 
broken ends, the miracle-working Lord would most 
likely have passed on. So that it was a good deal to 



PROMPTITUDE OF FAITH. 67 

the advantage of our paralytic that he had not a pas- 
sion for thinking things out clear to the end. 

In trying to think out the problems of our religion 
we get into the same difficulty our man would have 
fallen into had he tried disentangling the perplexities 
of his situation. It is impossible for a mind with 
scholarly habits not to be delighted with the feats of 
ratiocination exhibited to us in our theological dis- 
quisitions and reviews. The amount of heavy phi- 
losophy and theological profundity obtainable for a 
good deal less than a penny a page is a feature of the 
times. But these essays convince no one but their 
author, and very few read them but such as already 
sympathize with their conclusions. Religion is not 
a philosophy, nor is a treatise on religious topics a 
means of religious illumination, however valuable it 
may be as mental gymnastics. Religion does not 
slip into a man along the line of his thoughts, but 
between his thoughts. 

And it is remarkable how Christ in His intercourse 
with His disciples labored to keep their thoughts 
quiet. He never provoked argument. He never ex- 
plained things. He indulges in no definition-making. 
It is noticeable how few problems got started in their 
minds while He was with them. Hows and where- 
fores He regularly discouraged. Nicodemus wanted 
the matter of the rebirth stated analytically. Christ 
declined. One of the disciples wanted a statement 



68 



PROMPTITUDE OF FAITH. 



of the methods of the Spirit's operation. Christ de- 
clined. One trouble with our thinking powers is 
that they work at such a level as to create more prob- 
lems than they solve. They are like a fly caught in a 
web, whose very struggles and buzzing only draw the 
tangled skein about it the more imprisoningly. 

All that saved the man in our story was that he 
did not stop to think. He proceeded as though there 
were no difficulties, and forthwith for him there were 
none. It is instructive to notice how easy Peter 
found it to walk upon the water till he commenced 
to observe the wind and compute specific gravities ; 
and then he began to sink. If his thought had kept 
as quiet as that of the man in our story, it would 
have saved him a wetting and a rebuke. The first 
mistake Adam made was to think when he ought to 
have obeyed. The temper of mind that would have 
induced the paralytic to question the feasibility of 
Christ's command, was what disposed Adam to think 
about his duty and argue about it, instead of doing 
it. Adam thought too much. Thinking about duty 
instead of doing it was the entering wedge to human 
misery. 

The unconverted men in our congregation can see 
just where this presses. All Christ's commands to 
you are in the present tense, which means that the 
command is issued without any allowance of time for 
comprehending the mysteries of salvation, or for ac 



PROMPTITUDE OF FAITH. 69 

quiring power to become a saved man. It is simply 
levelled to the range of the instant ; not because 
thought is not advantageous in some circumstances, 
but because it is not in point here. The paralytic, 
with never so much thinking, would never have seen 
his way clear to do as he was told. There is no un- 
converted man here that will ever see his way clear 
to become a Christian. There are difficulties enough ; 
difficulties of a doctrinal kind, difficulties of a moral 
kind. But they are difficulties that will never be 
abated by any thought you may give to them, but 
aggravated rather and complicated. 

Giving ourselves to Christ is not a matter of under- 
standing what we are doing, but a matter of doing ; 
something as when you tell your boy to raise his 
hand ; he does not know how he raises his hand, and 
you know no more about it than he as regards the 
physiological intricacies of the act. And if he were 
to decline raising it until he understood the matter, 
you would tell him to do it first and understand at 
his leisure ; your command was aimed at his will, and 
his resort to the intricacies of physiology only a side 
issue raised to divert your attention from his insub- 
ordination. God's commands stand out of all rela- 
tion to human power to grasp the problems, moral or 
theological, associated with obedience to those com- 
mands. God's commands are like the pole-star, which 
with swift intuition finds out the magnetic-needle as 



7o 



PROMP TITUDE OF FAITH. 



easily by night-light as by daylight, and beats upon 
it with relentless compulsion equally in the darkness 
and the sunshine. 

They are not a question of can, but a question of 
will ; and with the will once trembling obediently on 
the verge of action, all needed resource of power is at 
its instant service. This is another lesson of our 
text. In the case of the paralytic, God's power 
came in just after the man's will to stretch forth his 
hand, and just before the stretching act. As he had 
the will to do, God furnished him the power to do 
with, and that made out the miracle. It was pretty 
much the same thing done divinely as is done hu- 
manly when a child goes tottering and clambering 
up a staircase that is too steep for it, and the parent 
takes hold of the child's hand liftingly. The child 
has the will to go up, and the parent puts some of his 
own strength at the service of that will ; and in this 
way weakness does impossibilities by virtue of supe- 
rior strength temporarily loaned. This is the inci- 
dent of the paralytic turned into terms and relations 
of familiar experience. 

It is of the utmost necessity that we should feel 
that this case of the paralytic stands in Scripture to 
represent the continuous action of God, the continu- 
ous miracle of God, if you please, in so lending Him- 
self to us as to match our power to the measure of 
our holy intents, and so making us able to do that 



PROMPTITUDE OF FAITH. 



71 



which there is in us a righteous will to do ; precisely 
as in our story Christ evened up the paralytic's power 
exactly to the level of his willingness. It would not 
be easy to determine whether in this way Christ still 
works miraculously in the region of physical necessi- 
ties and ailments ; although there is some warrant in 
Scripture for expecting occurrences of the sort ; and 
whenever we pray that God will bless to the recovery 
of a sick friend, the appliance used for his restoration, 
if we mean anything in particular by the petition, we 
mean that we desire of Him that He will so add His 
own energy to the natural power of the restoratives, 
as to make results greater than we should have any 
right to expect from the restoratives used alone and 
unsupplemented. 

But however this may be, it is the intent of our 
story, as it is the whole combined import of Script- 
ure, to teach us the fact and familiarize us with it, 
that in the interior events of life, in the processes of 
our thoughts, in our resistance to evil inward and 
outward, God's resources of strength and wisdom 
are in a miraculous way, yet in a way most real and 
practical, constantly at our service ; that when we 
have a perfectly holy ambition, we may draw on 
God to even up our power to the level of our ambi- 
tion. 

This ought not to disturb us as implying a familiar 
and presumptuous dependence upon the divine re- 



/2 



PROMPTITUDE OF FAITH. 



sources and bounty. It is only doing in the spiritual 
realm what every man does in a greater or less meas- 
ure in the physical one. The forces that we call nat- 
ural, that we use in every foot-tread, in the transporta- 
tion of every pound of merchandise by wind or by 
steam, in the carrying of every shuttle and revolution 
of every spindle, these forces are as truly grounded in 
God as are the influences that emanate from the Ho- 
ly Ghost, and that work in us holier purposes and af- 
fections of heart. It is from Him that cometh down 
every good and perfect gift. We are His beneficiaries 
in everything. It is as much making use of God to 
unfurl our sail in the draft of the west wind as it is to 
spread out our unfilled capacities of emotion and ac- 
tion in the draft of a spiritual Pentecost. It is a part 
of God that He yields Himself in all this rich diver- 
sity of ways to piece out man's infirmity. There is 
no way in which we can so well serve Him as by let- 
ting Him serve us in our pursuit of holy ends. It is 
in this way that our religion comes for the first time 
to mean something, and to be to us a positive incre- 
ment of power. We have ideas enough, but too few 
energies. 

Religious ideas get their only value from their fit- 
ness to serve as conduits for the conveyance of divine 
supply. We have all our city under-laid with water- 
mains, but we prize them only because there is water 
in the reservoir that works down through those mains 



PROMPTITUDE OF FAITH. 73 

and presses up into our dwellings. Ideas do not 
strengthen us any more than the water-pipe re- 
freshes or gas-pipe illuminates. And faith is not 
conceiving of God as an idea, but it is laying hold 
upon Him as a power and utilizing Him to the ends 
of holy living and Christian achieving, in just the 
same strenuous and practical way in which we lay 
hold on wind-pressure and steam-power, and let 
them even our resources up to the level of our secu- 
lar ambition. 

And in every possible variety of experience He has 
indicated His readiness to do for us each in a spirit- 
ual way all and everything that He did for the par- 
alytic in a physical way. " Ask and ye shall receive." 
" No good thing will be withheld from those that 
walk uprightly." He will give us wisdom, He says, 
and strength to bear up under sorrow ; and will arm 
us to cope with temptation. Christianity everywhere 
exhibits itself in the Gospel not as a philosophy, but 
as a dynamic agency ; a substantial increment of 
power to every Christian life in exactly the measure 
in which every Christian life consents in all faith to 
be dynamically re-enforced. " I can do all things 
through Christ which strengtheneth me." "Ye 
shall be endued with power from on high." 

If now the Church would link all its energies, all 
its devout desires as confidingly to the spiritual influ- 
ences of God as the world links its ambitions to His 
4 



74 PROMPTITUDE OF FAITH. 

cosmic energies of earth, sea, and air, hardly are there 
any results possible to be named that might not be 
achieved for the glory of God and the saving of men 
before the dawn of the approaching new century. 

And then one other lesson that follows on directly 
from this is the position of enlarged accountability 
and responsibility in which we are set. It is a com- 
mon thing for us to say that we are responsible for 
our use of the talents we have ; that present power 
is the measure of accountability. It appears from 
what we have seen in our story and from the general 
drift of Scripture in fact, that our responsibility lies' 
all the way around beyond the outer edge of our 
power and talent. The man in our text was respon- 
sible not only for his use of what was in him, but for 
what, as a result of his faith, he was able to have di- 
vinely added to him. All the way through Scripture 
God was continually commanding men to do more 
than they in themselves had the means to do, exact- 
ly as in our verse. He commanded His disciples to 
feed five thousand men with five loaves and two 
fishes. This, of course, was to undertake the impos- 
sible ; but when they once set themselves about it, 
the impossible presently became possible. One ob- 
ject of the miracle was to show that by faith we ac- 
quire a property in power that to our unfaith lies at 
an utter remove from us. This gives us the meaning 
of the expression in Mark, " To him that believeth, 



PROMPTITUDE OF FAITH. 75 

all things are possible." At another time He bade 
His disciples cast their net into the sea. This also 
was to undertake the impossible as the impossible lay 
shaped to them ; but, with Jesus alongside of them 
in the boat, the circle of possibility widened itself 
out until it inclosed a great draught of fishes — a hun- 
dred, fifty, and three. It was in the same way that 
God told the children of Israel to cross the Red Sea ; 
and prior to that bade Moses champion the people. 
The sea was impassable and Moses incapable. 

The sequel in all these cases shows that there is in 
faith a power to make God's resources our own tribu- 
taries and auxiliaries. The great reason why we 
make such slow gains in our own religious life in the 
warfare with inward sin, selfishness, and pride, is 
that we make no calculation for any strength but 
our own, and do not muster in our reserves. We 
are in this respect where manufacturing was in me- 
chanical life a hundred years ago, when everything 
was done by hand ; where traveling was fifty years 
ago, when everything was done by stage ; where com- 
munication was twenty-five years ago, when all mes- 
sages were sent by post. We do not calculate on a 
margin. We are doing all by a dead lift. 

We work our characters into shape. We put bits 
into our bad dispositions and lash our good disposi- 
tions into spasmodic canter. Everything betrays 
poverty of working power. We pray for this thing, 



;6 PROMPTITUDE OF FAITH. 

that, and the other ; but continue in just about the 
same condition of spiritual debility. We pray for 
quickening and inward enlargement. We ask for 
faith — partly from habit, partly because it is the 
Scriptural thing to do — forgetting that it is just as 
much the Scriptural thing to get faith as it is to ask 
for it. We ask for all these things, and yet we do 
not count on receiving them, and all our plans of cru- 
sade show no standing-room for auxiliaries. Every 
time we pray we invite God into partnership with us, 
and yet our arrangements are made mostly with the 
expectation of having to get on alone. We can 
hardly look at our own experience, and at the im- 
pulse of it say, " I can do all things through Christ 
which strengtheneth me." 

The same holds also in regard to Christian work 
for others. We never quite expect great things, and 
so great things do not come. We are always just on 
the edge of a blessing. We are like some regions of 
country in dry times in regard to which we say that 
" the showers all go round." We differ from the 
man in our text, and do not act on the basis of any 
resources but those we have in hand, and have nicely 
inventoried. Everything great in secular attainment 
has been achieved by a kind of venture that we call 
enterprise. Now if just that enterprise could be im- 
ported into evangelization and be called faith, it Would 
exactly cover the point of our necessity. 



PROMPTITUDE OF FAITH. yj 

Now the prosperity of the Church in times of its 
majestic strides forward, as in the earlier period of its 
existence, for example, was due to a certain apostolic 
audacity. It was very nicely said by the author of 
" Ecce Homo/' that " in periods which are wanting 
in inspiration, piety assumes the character of cau- 
tion. " We need some of the old-time audacity — 
some Pauline and Petrine presumption, which was 
audacious, not because it was ^calculating, but just 
because it was so grandly and discerningly calculat- 
ing, and calculated not only on its own intrinsic 
force, but on a magnificent increment of working en- 
ergy from on high. 

Now you appreciate the force of all this in a gen- 
eral way, but just make of it for an instant a particu- 
lar matter. There is in a good many quarters a cer- 
tain diffidence about taking hold in a practical way 
of the sin that is in the world, which in the light of 
our text and our discussion is seen to be due to the 
simple barrenness of our faith. We measure our- 
selves against the bad thing in the world, in Church, 
in society, in State ; we see that the evil is larger than 
we are, and so say : " It is of no use ! " Mr. Moody 
in one of his recent sermons said : " I have a great 
admiration for the colpred woman who said that, 
' If the Lord told her to jump through a stone wall, 
it was her business to jump, and the getting through 
was God's business.' " An appeal is made to you to 



78 



PROMPTITUDE OF FAITH. 



do some specific Christian work. You plead your 
sense of incapacity ; the work is more than you feel 
yourself adequate to. Probably ; you are just in the 
predicament of the man with the withered hand. 
You are inadequate to it. But it is the special excel- 
lence of Christianity as a spiritual dynamic that it ca- 
pacitates incapacity. Sense of incapacity, so far from 
releasing you from obligation, is one of the prime 
conditions of your success : " My strength is made 
perfect in weakness," said the Lord to Paul. 

Now just there is our present need as Christians 
and as churches, to get over feeling that we have got 
these things to do ourselves. Such an idea is out of 
all consonance with Scripture and with church his- 
tory. You may call God's importation of His power 
into us the baptism of the Holy Ghost, or designate 
it by any other term. But just that is the bottom 
fact of our holy religion that it empowers, capacitates ; 
qualifies paralysis to do the work of health, and man 
to achieve results that are divine. 

And we want as Christians or otherwise, just now 
and here, to get right in under the light of this idea, 
and under the pressure of this power. Let us ask 
ourselves if this does not point out to us just the 
need that we individually feel, and a need that we 
are sure that the blessed Lord can supply for us. 
Dear brothers, let us no longer hover on the edge of 
a blessing, but come right in under the shadow of 



PROMPTITUDE OF FAITH. 79 

God's wing, and by our faith enter directly into the 
fruition of the divine supply, going no longer about 
with hands that are palsied and powers that are 
blighted, but responding with quick and confident 
obedience to every command of our Lord, find the 
power welling up "within us which shall lift us to the 
level of every blessed privilege that it is ours to enjoy, 
to the level of every perplexing and arduous duty 
that it is in us, with the help of God, right manfully 
and successfully to discharge. 



VI. 



THE CALL TO APOSTLESHIP. 

" But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy 
Ghost is come upon you ; and ye shall be 
witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in 
all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the ut- 
termost part of the earth." — ACTS i. 8. 

THE book of the Acts, beginning with the second 
chapter, has for its object to detail as history just 
that which in this verse is outlined as prophecy. The 
last twenty-seven chapters of this book are to this 
eighth verse in the first chapter just what the oak is 
to the acorn, the literal, orderly, and sublime unfold- 
ing and fulfilling of the acorn. This verse is the 
table of contents of the body of the work. It is not 
stated to be such, but it is such with close exactness. 

Christ says, "Ye shall receive power after that the 
Holy Ghost is come upon you." The second chapter 
gives the narrative of this divine empowering. Christ 
says that when His apostles have been thus inwardly 
furnished they shall be witnesses unto Him. The 
rest of the book is engrossed with the history of 
apostolic witness-bearing. He says that they shall be 
(80) 



THE CALL TO APOSTLESHIP. 8 1 



witnesses to Him first in Jerusalem. The account of 
their activity in Jerusalem we read in the third, 
fourth, and fifth chapters. Second, " in all Judea." 
The occasion of their dispersion throughout Judea 
is related in the sixth and seventh chapters. Third, 
" in Samaria." The preaching to the Samaritans is 
the subject of the eighth chapter. Fourth, " unto 
the uttermost part of the earth." The conversion of 
Saul is described in the following chapter, the ninth, 
and from that point on to the close of the book, the 
subject of the narrative is apostolic activity among 
the Gentiles, which reaches to the ends of the earth — 
unto its uttermost part. Thus this text of ours is 
the whole of the Acts in prophetic miniature. 

This verse again is of interest as involving the con- 
ditions upon which waits all human success. Success 
in its conditioning principles is the same in every line 
of engagement. The looms in our manufactories 
turn out all sorts of woven fabrics, and yet all these 
looms are built upon one mechanical principle. 

The machinery of success is substantially one 
for all varieties of success ; and success in every line 
of occupation is made out of power converged upon 
an object. Means in our hand, an end in our eye, 
resources and purpose, the one at the beginning, the 
other at the end, the alpha and omega of success. 

Our failures are of two kinds, therefore. They are 
due sometimes to our attempting too much, trying 
4* 



82 THE CALL TO APOSTLESHIP. 



to carry burdens that are beyond our strength, cher- 
ishing ambitions that are too ambitious ; like the man 
in the Bible story, more considerate of the design ac- 
cording to which we are building than of the limited 
resources we are trying to build with. . 

But I am of the impression that the saddest fail- 
ures in the world are due not to our over-estimating 
our power and trying to do too much, but to the in- 
decision of our aim and not knowing what we are 
trying to do ; that men, especially in the higher re- 
lations of life, are unproductive, not because they are 
feeble, but because they are purposeless ; that the 
world's power is abortive because it is divergent in- 
stead of convergent, and dissipated instead of fo- 
cused ; and that a purpose, definite and intelligent, 
lying athwart the track of a man's energies of heart 
and mind, is what a burning glass is lying across the 
path of the sunbeam, a means of tension and the 
pledge of result. 

At this solemn moment, then, in which Christ 
turns over mankind into the hands of the Eleven, it 
is noteworthy that the last service which He renders 
His disciples is to tell them in simple and precise 
terms, what it is exactly that they as disciples are to 
do. The power with which they are to do it, He 
has already stated : the power which shall be wrought 
in them by the Holy Ghost ; and now the last mo- 
ment of holy intercourse is spent in telling them 



f 

THE CALL TO APOSTLESHIP. 83 

what they shall do with that power, and upon what 
precise object it shall be gathered and centered. 
" Ye shall be witnesses unto me," that is, ye shall 
labor to make real to others that which is real to you. 
That exactly is the meaning of witness-bearing, 
making real to others that which is real to us. 

Christ had spent three years and a half in making 
Himself the most real of all real things in the thoughts 
and affections of the Eleven ; and now as He ascends 
from out their midst and they go away to their little 
room of devotion and conference, Christ is to them 
the most substantial, the most real thing in all the 
universe of God. He has accomplished what at the 
beginning of His ministry He undertook to accom- 
plish. 

Go back with me for a moment from the last words 
which He spoke to His disciples, to the first word 
that He spoke to them, to Peter and Andrew, the 
two fishermen first nominated by Him to the disciple- 
ship, and we shall see that what He said to them last 
upon Olivet is but the fulfilling of what He said to 
them first by Gennesaret. " Follow me/' He said to 
Peter and Andrew, as they cast their net into the 
sea, " Follow me, and I will make you fishers of 
men." And now for above three years He has been 
doing for them what He said He would do for them. 
He has been making them fishers of men, has been 
teaching them the holy art of Christian angling, and 



84 THE CALL TO A P OS TLESHLP. 



He possessed them of the art by creating within 
them gradually a sense of Him as the one real thing. 

And now they have learned this art, He is to 
them the one real thing. Father, mother, wife, and 
children are real, but Christ was to them more real ; 
and therefore they could forsake father, mother, wife, 
and children to follow Christ. Property was very 
real, but Christ was more real and so they could en- 
dure poverty. Pain was fearfully real ; but pain they 
could bear readily for Christ's sake. Death is an ob- 
stinate and a supreme terror, but it was not to them 
so real as Jesus Christ. 

In this way the art of angling after men has been 
made familiar to them ; the angling rod put into 
their hands. Christ is to them now the one real thing 
of all real things. He has done for them what He 
undertook to do. There is nothing more that He 
can do. The sooner He leaves them the better it 
will be for them ; and so in a word that is very ten- 
der because it is the last word, and very full of weight 
because it reaches back to Gennesaret and forward 
to us, He says to them in parting, " What is so real 
to you, do you go out into the midst of men and 
make real to them also ; and so soon as the power of 
the Holy Ghost is come upon you, ye shall be wit- 
nesses unto me, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, 
and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the 
earth." 



THE CALL TO A POS TLESHLP. 85 

Now, on the basis of the foregoing, there are some 
things proper to be addressed to the Christians of 
this congregation and addressed to them, first, in 
their individual character as Christians, and addressed 
to them, second, in their associate capacity as mem- 
bers of this church. And you will bear with me if I 
use great simplicity and frankness. 

In acknowledging Christ as our Master we accept 
the Gospel both as a law of doctrine and as a rule of 
conduct. Orthodoxy of belief is no more indispen- 
sable to Christianity than orthodoxy of behavior. 
The Gospel allows us not one particle more liberty 
of act religiously than it does liberty of thought 
religiously. The Church, it is true, has burned a 
great many men for thinking unscripturally, without 
concerning itself much about the men who act un- 
scripturally, and yet we learn from the twentieth of 
Revelation, that the books with which we shall be 
confronted when we stand before the great white 
throne will be books which register not our creeds, 
but our conduct ; and that, not because creed is of 
no account, but because conduct and heart creed are 
of the same complexion, and either is a safe index of 
the other. 

When, therefore, we know what the Gospel would 
have us do, and we do not do it, our heresy is as 
much an outrage upon God as when we know what 
the Gospel would have us believe and do not believe 



86 



THE CALL TO APOSTLESHIP. 



it. Christianity does not consist in submitting our 
judgment to Christ and keeping our behavior in our 
own hands. It is more a matter of doing the will 
of our Father which is in heaven than it is a matter 
of crying: " Lord ! Lord ! " 

If we have, therefore, any suspicion that the Script- 
ures are interested in portraying Christianity as an 
agency relative to the unconverted as well as a con- 
dition relative to us, we shall, as faithful students of 
the Scriptures, be as concerned to know what they 
would have us do, as what they would have us be, 
and we shall, as loyal followers of Christ, be as anx- 
ious to carry ourselves evangelically outwardly as to 
be evangelical inwardly. 

You are aware that the science of mechanics is 
reducible to two divisions. One division is occupied 
with statics and the other with dynamics. Statics 
concerns itself with forces in equilibrium ; dynamics 
treats of forces in motion. One gives us physical 
condition ; the other physical agency. One is a mat- 
ter of being ; the other a matter of doing. Christi- 
anity is a sort of mechanics likewise, hidden and 
spiritual. And the New Testament is an inspired 
treatise on spiritual mechanics, and deals with the 
matter in something the way that the grosser me- 
chanics of matter does, and expounds both the doc- 
trine of spiritual statics and the doctrine of spiritual 
dynamics, and exhibits to us Christianity as a splen- 



THE CALL TO APOSTLESHIP. 87 

did equilibrium of the soul, and Christianity as an 
energy that everywhere goes about upsetting equi- 
librium — statics and dynamics. 

The trouble with a great many of our Christians 
is that they never get beyond the statics. They stop 
with Christianity as an inward composure. " My 
peace I leave with you," completes their conception 
of the Gospel. They do not reach the point of seiz- 
ing their inward composure, and hurling it in all its 
holy equipoise into the midst of unholy men to their 
unutterable discomposure. They stop with reading 
the four gospels of condition without going on to 
read the fifth gospel of " Acts." 

And when we contemplate the dynamic charac- 
ter, the equilibrium-disturbing character of apostolic 
Christianity, we are not to conceive of the apostles 
as any exception to Christ's general intent of what 
Christians at large shall be, and import. Ac4s, Epis- 
tles, and Revelation, are all of them one prolonged 
and multitudinous exposition of Christianity in its 
innermost being and outermost expression. It is all 
of it God's best endeavor to set before the world the 
very ideal of manhood as a serenity and as an activ- 
ity ; and that ideal is as relative to you and to me as 
it is to the most enraptured Johns, the most impetu- 
ous Peters, the most indefatigable Pauls, that history 
has ever produced. 

The original disciples were not elected and disci- 



88 THE CALL TO APOSTLESHIP. 



plined by Jesus Christ in order to produce a class, a 
caste, that should forever stand apart and distinct 
from the disciples that in other nations and genera- 
tions should come after them, unapproached and 
unapproachable by their successors either in the stur- 
diness of their faith or in the immensity of their 
evangelizing activity. Those disciples were taken 
and trained in order to show to the world what it 
was the very nature of Christianity to transform com- 
mon every-day manhood into : and if you and I have 
not the profound serenity of spirit which the apostles 
had, and if, especially, we have not the passionate 
ambition to make Christ a reality in the minds and 
hearts of those about us that the apostles had, it is not 
because we are not equal to the apostles in natural 
depth, or their match in intellectual compass : it is 
because we have not let Christ become as real to us 
as they^et Him become to them: it is because we 
have not let Christ take hold of us as they let Him 
take hold of them, and crowd the depths of our being 
with His fulness, and fill out the compass of our mind 
and heart with the plenitude of His wisdom and 
fervor. Everything which they became, everything 
which they did, is only so much in the way of explain- 
ing to you and to me just what Christianity in its 
innermost nature is. 

If they had stopped with being disciples, then we 
should have said that Christianity meant nothing 



THE CALL TO AT OS TLESHIP. % g 

then and means nothing to-day but discipleship. But 
if they went on from being absorbent disciples and 
became at last radiant apostles, with their mouths 
full of persuasion, and their lives all running over 
with the demonstration of the Gospel, then we shall 
be obliged to say that then and now Christianity 
means apostleship just as much as it means disciple- 
ship. It means purpose just as much as it means 
power ; it means making others Christians just as 
much as it means being Christians ourselves ; it means 
making Christ a real thing in the minds and hearts of 
others, just as much as it means having Christ made 
a real thing to us ; it means to-day in New York as 
much as it meant 1,850 years ago at Olivet, bearing 
witness to the Son of God in the narrower circle of 
the home, the broader circle of the community, and 
forth even to the uttermost part of the earth. 

These things when carefully and prayerfully con- 
sidered will create within us a deep sense of our own 
individual and personal responsibility. It is a part 
of Christianity to be apostolic. The anointing of the 
Holy Ghost sets each one of us — man, woman, and 
child — in the line of the true apostolic succession ; 
and, as after the ascension of Christ mankind lay in 
the hands of the original apostles for them to con- 
vert, so to-day the conversion of the world pertains 
to us as their spiritual representatives and successors. 

I saw the other day a numerical calculation in 



THE CALL TO APOSTLESHIP. 



which I was greatly interested, and which is fitted to 
affect us deeply. Assuming the unevangelized popu- 
lation of the globe to be one billion and a seventh, 
and the number of true followers of Jesus Christ to 
be ten millions, allowing that each Christian were 
from this time forward to make one convert each 
year, within eight years from the present time the 
whole population of the globe would be at the foot 
of the Cross ! " Behold, they that be wise shall shine 
as the brightness of the firmament, and they that 
turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and 
ever." 

But not only do we exist as individual Christians 
having aims toward which our spiritual power is indi- 
vidually directed, we exist also in the associate rela- 
tion of a Church. Individual Christianity means in- 
dividual apostleship. What does associate Christian- 
ity mean? What is a church for? What is this 
church for? It is worth a great deal even to have 
the idea that it is for something. It is a precious in- 
stinct we all have that a thing is not good unless it 
is good for something ; that excellence is not excel- 
lent unless it is preliminary to usefulness. Value and 
valor are the same word, etymologically, and valor 
we can not think of separate from some sort of 
drawn sword. God is the only being that is its own 
reason for being, and even God is not quite God to 
us except as we see Him running over in beneficence, 



THE CALL TO APOSTLESHLP. gi 

and putting even Himself under some kind of con- 
tribution. It is well, then, that we should so much 
as ask ourselves what reason this church has for be- 
ing. A church is Christianity organized. What ad- 
vantage does Christianity gain by being organized ? 

These questions I will answer at the outset in a 
negative way, by saying, first, that a church does not 
exist, properly, for the sake of its sanctuary ministra- 
tions, whether of the pulpit or of the choir. There 
are churches — and we are using the word church, 
now, in its strict technical sense — there are churches 
that can be pointed to everywhere, that to all outward 
appearance fulfill their entire function by building a 
house of worship, settling a pastor, engaging a choir, 
and gathering themselves weekly within the conse- 
crated walls for purposes of holy entertainment and 
spiritual edification. 

My friends, supposing that after the ascension of 
their Lord the original Church of the Apostles had 
done just that thing. Supposing that they as a 
church had made organized Christianity to consist as 
a permanency, in praying and singing and preaching 
to each other once a week, and gathering together in 
mid-week a desultory few of them for purposes of sup- 
plication, although with no tangible notion as to 
what there was for them to pray for ! 

I have the impression that there are churches — in 
this city, perhaps, certainly elsewhere — where supine- 



THE CALL TO APOSTLESHIP. 



ness is only another name for spiritual laziness, in- 
duced by excess of sanctuary nourishment, and who 
do not bestir themselves sufficiently to prevent even 
the bread of life from working within them as a slow 
and subtle poison. There are churches whose mem- 
bership may be numbered by hundreds, churches 
that have had the Gospel preached to them earnestly 
and spiritually for fifty years, and that yet in the 
course of the entire half century have not begun to 
produce such a flame as was kindled all over Jerusa- 
lem by the Church of the Eleven within fifteen days 
after the Lord's ascension. 

Again, a church does not exist for the sake of sus- 
taining its w T eaker members. Of course there is a 
great deal that it can do and ought to do in that di- 
rection. We all depend, in a considerable degree, on 
each other. Christ said to Peter, " When thou art 
converted, strengthen the brethren." But somehow 
in this century of the Church a large number of 
those who. apply for admission to the Church give as 
a reason for joining that they want, not to strengthen 
the brethren, but to have the brethren strengthen 
them. 

It is easy to see that when an army is quartered in 
the enemy's country, the safest place for soldiers is 
inside of the camp ; but a regiment recruited for the 
purpose of having its members protect each other is 
a poor addendum to the fighting resources of the 



THE CALL TO APOSTLESHIP. 93 

brigade. We learn heroism in the face of danger; 
children learn to swim by being thrown into the wa- 
ter ; and the original Church never flinched after 
once it had taken up its position in the open field. 

Again, it hardly needs to be said that a church 
does not exist for the sake of its denomination. De- 
nomination is harness worn by us for the purpose of 
dragging the chariot of the Gospel. It may chafe 
some— all harness is liable to. The harness must be 
made as easy as is possible consistently with its 
strength and durability ; but the harness is a neces- 
sity. Still, it must be always remembered that the 
harness exists for the sake of the chariot, and not the 
chariot for the sake of the harness ; and he serves his 
denomination best who serves the Church of Christ 
best. 

And now by indicating what the Church does not 
exist for, we have already implied the object for 
which it does exist. A Church, as an efficiency of 
God for the conversion of men, is the interweaving 
of the individual strands of strength fused into a 
solid bolt of force and hurled at the adversaries of 
the Lord ; and no desultory skirmishing of individ- 
ual Christians will begin to take the place of the 
grand concentrated bombardment of a confederate 
Church. 

We regularly proceed upon that principle in the 
achievement of large secular results. We organize 



94 THE CALL TO APOSTLESHIP. 

for purposes of government ; we organize for pur- 
poses of warfare ; we organize for purposes of im- 
provement ; we organize for purposes of revolution 
and of discovery. One great secret of the tremend- 
ous power of the Young Men's Christian Associa- 
tions throughout the country is the splendid thor- 
oughness of their organization ; and one great reason 
why these associations exist is, for the purpose of do- 
ing what the churches ought to do, and what they 
would be in superb condition to do, if they were as 
thoroughly pervaded as these associations with the 
missionary idea, as profoundly thrilled with the Holy 
Ghost, and as consecratedly administered and ju- 
diciously manned. They do the work that the 
churches are not doing, because in their constitution 
and animus they are more perfectly conformed than 
the churches to the model of the old Apostolic 
Eleven. They, like the Church of the Apostles, exist 
confessedly and professedly, theoretically and prac- 
tically, for the conversion of men. They combine for 
battle ; they muster around the cross ; they charge 
upon the enemy ; and God sends them home every 
day laden with victory and with souls. 

I have no apology to make for my earnestness and 
abruptness. I know and feel the truth of it, and ev- 
ery man knows it that has had a taste of Pentecost, 
and under the splendid stimulus of that Pentecost 
has read these burning chapters of the Acts. And I 



THE CALL TO APOSTLESHIP. 95 

have no prayer that I can offer for this church that 
so drinks up into itself the passion and longing of my 
soul as that God will stamp upon the heart of every 
member of the church in lines of fire the object for 
which alone this church has any right to be a church, 
and that, having convinced us of our collective mis- 
sion, He will endue us with the power from on high 
that shall equip us to fulfill our mission ; welding us 
till we are one, warming us till we glow with holy 
apostolic passion, and leading us forward to that as- 
sociate victory that waits to be conferred upon every 
church that loves Christ better than it loves the 
world, that reckons souls saved to be the finest 
treasure, and that accounts apostleship to be the 
very glory of the religion of Jesus. 



VII. 



THE CHRISTIAN WARFARE. 

" Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may 
be able to stand against the wiles of the devil." 
— Eph. vi. II. 

St. Paul was a born warrior. Most of us are what 
we are by ordination of circumstance. Here and 
there one is what he is by ordination of nature. It 
was Paul's genius to be belligerent, and his life would 
have been an epic, lived anywhere. Even in Eden 
he would have done what his great ancestor neglected 
to do, stood against the wiles of the devil. Adam 
had no genius. 

Even the years of Paul's quiet student life had no 
effect to cool his enthusiasm or stay his impetuosity. 
If a man has genius, everything he touches ministers 
to it, everything he feeds on turns out to be nutri- 
ment to it. We can hardly conceive of anything 
more repressing and withering than the old Jewish 
law when taught as it was accustomed to be taught 
by the Jewish divines, the Hebrew rabbis. But to 
the young disciple of Gamaliel, it was meat, fuel, in- 
spiration. To his hot soul everything proved com- 
(96) 



THE CHRISTIAN WARFARE. gy 

bustible, fusible. " As for Saul, he made havoc of the 
Church, entering into every house ; and hailing men 
and women, committed them to prison." " And Saul 
yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against 
the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high-priest 
and desired of him letters to Damascus to the syna- 
gogues, that if he found any of this way, whether 
they were men or women, he might bring them bound 
unto Jerusalem." Every word helps make the pict- 
ure more vivid. He is not satisfied any longer to 
hold the clothes (as at Stephen's martyrdom), but 
takes up arms in his own right and as his own matter. 

Then he went to Damascus and saw a great light, 
and Saul became Paul. But making a changed man 
of him did not make another man of him. Saul and 
Paul are one person structurally. Reversing a lo- 
comotive does not make a new locomotive of it. 
Change of direction, but not change of power. Paul 
is Saul reversed, the same man fronting the other 
way. Conversion did not interfere in any way with 
his genius. Conversion never does. Conversion 
changed the working direction of his genius. He 
was belligerent by nature and belligerent by grace. 
Nature made the motion and grace seconded it. 

" His life," Martineau says, "was a battle, from 
which in intervals of the good fight his words arose 
as songs of victory." It was the supreme feat of the 
Gospel to convert such a man. He is the superlative 
5 



9 8 THE CHRISTIAN WARFARE. 

trophy of the Christian Church. Paul is the miracle 
of Christianity, one of those incontestable evidences 
of Christianity that leaves the mind satisfied. It was 
more to make Saul over into Paul than it was to 
make water over into wine. Power that could do the 
former would be at no loss to do the latter. 

The martial quality of this old Napoleon of the 
cross betrays itself in what he does and in the way 
he does it, and in every bend and turn of life. The 
record of his moving hitherward and thitherward 
reads like the chronicles of an Alexander. He dared 
difficulties like Hannibal, and grasped details with the 
omniscience and omnipresence of the first emperor. 
His visits were invasions, his letters war dispatches, 
and his whole life campaign. It is noticeable how 
easily and habitually his thought drops into forms of 
the camp. 

There is nothing so like a man as the language he 
uses. The same word in Greek, you remember, means 
both reason and word. That which a man says is his 
second self. Christ, the Word of God, is the second 
self of God. Paul's belligerency attests itself in his 
utterances and in the veiy forms in which those ut- 
terances are cast. Paul had certainly seen a great 
deal more of art than he had of warfare. He had 
been in Athens, had lived in Corinth and Ephesus, 
and was familiar with the finest products of Hellenic 
taste. He had moved among the splendors of Grecian 



THE CHRISTIAN WARFARE. gg 

landscape, threaded the island-dotted ^Egean ; stand- 
ing at Thessalonica, had looked away across the sea 
to cloud-girt Olympus ; had looked down from the 
Areopagus of Athens upon a luxurious environment of 
sea, river, and mountain, had passed under the shadow 
of ^Etna and Vesuvius, and witnessed the soft sunny 
beauty of the bay of Naples. 

But his soul had no sensitiveness to graces of form. 
There was no beauty in his eye, no aesthetics in his 
letters. His letters are not sketchy or newsy, in them 
are no interpolated art notes. Notes from the battle- 
field rather, hot with fiery purpose and strenuous 
with iron resolve. " He is the only man I know of," 
said Cassaubon, " who wrote not with fingers, pen 
and ink, but with his very heart, passion, and bare 
nerves." 

That is Paul, the Napoleon of the cross, the mailed 
and helmeted belligerent of the Gospel of peace. 
And this martial impulse, I say, is everywhere in his 
letters incessantly declaring itself. It is in our text, 
" Put on the whole armor of God." And the whole 
ensuing passage is in the same vein. Truth is to be 
the girdle, righteousness the breastplate, the prepara- 
tion of the Gospel of peace the sandals, faith the 
shield, salvation the helmet, and the Word of God the 
sword. There is no beauty in Paul's eye, but war is 
in his eye and everything he sees becomes the reflec- 
tion of his eye, takes the color of his thought. 



THE CHRISTIAN WARFARE. 



He writes to Timothy : " Fight the good fight of 
faith." He encourages Timothy to a life of valor 
by the stimulus of his own example and says to him, 
" I have fought a good fight." In this sixth chapter 
he writes to the Ephesians, " We wrestle not against 
flesh and blood, but we wrestle against principalities, 
against powers, against the rulers of the darkness 
of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high 
places." "So fight I, not as one that beateth the air," 
he says to the Corinthians. His reference is to the 
pugilist. While among the Corinthians he had quite 
likely watched the boxers at the Isthmian games, cele- 
brated near by. He had forgotten all about the art 
treasures of Corinth, but remembered everything that 
was in the nature of a fierce antagonism. 

To the same Corinthians he says in his second let- 
ter, " Approving ourselves as the ministers of God 
by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and 
on the left," — the sword-hand and the shield-hand, — 
righteousness offensive and righteousness defensive. 

Again, in the tenth chapter of the same letter: 
" The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but 
mighty through God to the pulling down of strong- 
holds." We think that when a boy the fiery Saul 
must have had told him the story of the pirates that 
had their little strongholds all along the coast of his 
native Cilicia ; and how when their maraudings be- 
came unendurable Pompey was sent out with an army 



THE CHRISTIAN WARFARE. 



from Rome, and in one magnificent sea-fight con- 
quered the pirates, took 10,000 of them prisoners and 
captured 120 of their strongholds. 

He cared nothing for the statues that he saw at 
Corinth, but he remembered the boxers at the Isth- 
mus. He draws none of his imagery from the Taurus 
or the Mediterranean, but decks his sturdy rhetoric 
with the grim metaphors of the squadron and brig- 
ade, and utilizes everything that is instinct with a 
firm antagonism ; and so he writes : " The weapons 
of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through 
God to the pulling down of strongholds ; casting 
down imaginations, and every high thing that exalt- 
eth itself [every fortress that raiseth itself] against 
the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity 
every thought to the obedience of Christ [leading 
captive every thought into subjection to Christ]." 
Hardly is there a word in that entire passage that 
is not in some way a war-echo, a reverberation from 
the camp and the field. And so to the Romans he 
says : " Let us put on the armor of light "; and 
to the Thessalonians : " Let us who are of the day, 
be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and 
love, and for an helmet the hope of salvation." 

All of them are detached but consonant symptoms 
of Paul's belligerency. He was a fighting apostle 
after he was converted, a fighting persecutor before 
he was converted, and a fighting boy, I presume, 



102 THE CHRISTIAN WARFARE. 



among his playmates at Tarsus. (The trouble with 
boys now, is not that they are fighting boys, but 
that they fight the wrong thing, — what is good 
instead of what is bad, and each other instead of 
themselves.) 

And now it is precisely this war-spirit of Paul that 
helps to explain his eminence in the apostolic Church. 
When God chose Paul (" He is a chosen vessel unto 
me," said God) — when God chose Paul, He chose 
him with regard to the work to be done, and with 
regard to Paul's fitness to do it. He chose the 
Hebrews to be His people instead of the Chinese or 
East-Indians, because there was something in the 
Hebrews that was apt to His purpose. His choice 
of Paul was an apt choice, because Paul was an apt 
man, and He went on in a way to adapt Paul, because 
Paul was already natively adaptable. . And one ele- 
ment of his aptness was his combativeness. A fight- 
ing Church, a Church militant, belligerent, could be 
humanly championed by nothing less than a fighting 
apostle, an apostle militant, belligerent. St. John 
had visions of the Church triumphant, and was, in his 
temper and spirit, a kind of representation and 
prophecy of the Church triumphant. St. Paul stands 
for the Church of the present, the Church upon the 
field, the Church in armor, and the apostle of the 
armed spirit is fitly the historic champion of the 
Church in armor. And we shall gain in many ways 



THE CHRISTIAN WARFARE. 103 

by contemplating Christian service under Paul's as- 
pect and imagery. 

Christianity is in its very nature and intent a cru- 
sade. Ours is a Gospel of peace, but it is anything 
but a peaceful Gospel, and the more Scripturally it is 
put the more it betrays its animosity toward every- 
thing that in spirit contradicts the Gospel ; as the 
brighter the light, the more it differs from darkness, 
and the greater and swifter the inroad that it makes 
into darkness. 

It was Christ who said : " Think not that I am 
come to send peace on earth. I came not to send 
peace, but a sword." And again : " I am come to 
send fire on the earth ; and.what will I, if it be already 
kindled?" "Suppose ye that I am come to give 
peace on earth ? I tell you nay, but rather division." 
In Christianity a light is come into the world, and 
because men's deeds are evil they hate the light, and 
the more purely and intensely it shines the more they 
hate it. 

Christianity is the most distinct declaration of war 
against sin that God ever made, and every luminous 
Christian is only another echo of the original decla- 
ration. It is in the very nature of godliness that it 
irritates ungodliness. Unflinching honesty always 
aggravates dishonesty, unflecked purity is a standing 
indictment against lust, and every pronounced virtue 
and its pronounced opposite are duellists, and the 



104 THE CHRISTIAN WARFARE. 

only Christianity that can get along in the world 
without harassing and worrying ungodliness is what 
Christ called the " bushel-covered " Christianity. " If 
ye were of the world, the world would love his own ; 
but because ye are not of the world, therefore the 
world hateth you." " If they have persecuted me, 
they will also persecute you." 

Christianity is in its nature belligerent, and the 
peace of the Gospel comes only as the fruitage of 
battle, and as the aftermath of victory. " What com- 
munion hath light with darkness ? " asked Paul. Be- 
tween sanctity and sin there is deadly enmity, which 
will disappear only with the extermination of one or 
the other of the belligerents. The moral tranquilli- 
zation of the world is obtainable by no policy of com- 
promise. Diplomacy has no role to play here. " Put 
on the whole armor of God." The call is for soldiers, 
not diplomats ; for regiments, not embassies. The 
victory is to be fought out, not negotiated. 

Of course there is courtesy in war as well as else- 
where. There is a consideration due to men as such, 
be they wicked or otherwise, but there is no consid- 
eration due to wickedness. Wickedness has to be 
handled without gloves, and designated without 
euphemisms. The act and the actor have to be dis- 
criminated. The two lie a little apart from each 
other in God's thought. Said the Psalmist to Jeho- 
vah, " Thou wast a God that forgavest them, though 



THE CHRISTIAN WARFARE. 105 



Thou tookest vengeance of their inventions." Courtesy 
toward a wicked man is Christian ; courtesy toward 
wickedness is poltroonery and perhaps diabolism. 
All such irresoluteness postpones victory, not wins 
it. Sooner or later the whole matter has got to be 
determined by the arbitrament of the sword. There 
are instances in which there is no evading Waterloo. 

The competition of good and evil is such an in- 
stance. We may domesticate sin, and array it in 
terms of elegant Latinity, but sooner or later that 
same sin will have to be proscribed without mercy 
and hunted down as an outlaw. We will treat with 
all the beautiful tenderness of the Gospel, men and 
women that are knavish, yes, that are adulterous, but 
we must remember that honesty and dishonesty, 
purity and uncleanness, are in implacable feud, and 
that either righteousness or sin has got to go under 
before there can be peace on the earth. We want 
then the courage of our convictions to enable us to 
name things according to their true character, to state 
things as they are, to deal with things as they are, 
and heroically to refuse all quarter to everything 
that declines to be led captive into subjection to 
Christ. As soldiers of the Lord we want large be- 
stowment of sanctified stubbornness. 

There is another object that will be accomplished 
by recognizing the belligerent spirit of Christianity. 
Two divisions of the same army will hardly train 



106 THE CHRISTIAN WARFARE. 

their guns on each other, so long as they are con- 
sciously in sight of a common enemy. It is fearful 
to contemplate the amount of ammunition which 
through a period of eighteen centuries the several 
divisions and regiments of the Lord's army have ex- 
pended on each other, all from the laxity of their 
loyalty to their common captain, and the laxity of 
their hatred to their common foe. 

There is but one thing for you and me as Chris- 
tians to fight, and that is — sin ; and every shot, gibe, 
pulpit or newspaper fling that we discharge upon a 
loyal fellow-soldier or fellow-regiment of Christ's 
army, is in effect so much musketry put in the hands 
of Satan and used to sin's aggrandizement and the 
enfeeblement of the Church. The most intense aggres- 
sion of the Church has been its intestine aggression. 
We can not afford it. Who can tell whether the 
Church might not already have doffed its armor and 
donned its crown had sin, from the first hour of Pen- 
tecost, been fixedly held under the concentrated fire 
of a one-hearted Christendom? 

You remember how Christ treated the matter. 
John said to Him, " We saw one casting out devils 
in Thy name." (That is the precise mission of the 
Church of all time, casting out devils.) " We saw 
one casting out devils in Thy name, and he followeth 
not us. 1 * What bruised John's feelings is bruising 
feelings eighteen centuries later, casting out devils, 



THE CHRISTIAN WARFARE. i y 

but he followeth not us, " and we forbade him because 
he followeth not us." Jealous clergy and jealous 
laity are in effect doing the same thing to-day and 
for the same reason. Jesus said, " Forbid him not, 
for he that is not against us is on our part." That 
bands in one Christ's followers, and makes it treason 
against Christ to stab a co-militant. 

And now this warfare between righteousness and 
sin is waging everywhere ; wherever we stand, we stand 
on battle-ground. Every inch gained is gained by 
the sword ; and at whatever point we severally touch 
society, there is the point at which our sword is to 
be wielded and our blows dealt. The place where 
our vocation plants us, and our usual duties and 
relations engage us, is the one where we shall wear 
and use God's armor to best effect. 

You remember the ruinous desolation in which 
Nehemiah found Jerusalem when he visited it from 
Shushan. The people were few and abased, the 
houses fallen, the walls broken down, and the gates 
thereof burned with fire. While men slept, guided 
by the uncertain night-light, the devout old patriot 
traced out the circuit of the olden wall he loved so 
well, found again the gateways through which had 
once flowed and ebbed the tide of a busy, happy life, 
and in the stillness and the darkness pondered de- 
voutly how Jerusalem might once more become a 
walled and gated town, a strong city of God. And 



108 THE CHRISTIAN WARFARE. 

he said to the people in the morning: "Ye see the 
distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, 
and the gates thereof are burned with fire ; come and 
let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no 
more a reproach. And they said, Let us rise up and 
build ; so they strengthened their hands for their good 
work." 

And now the point of interest is to inquire how 
they set themselves about the lifting up of that which 
was fallen down. And we read in the third chapter 
of Nehemiah, that " the dwellers in the city rebuilt 
each that portion of the wall that lay next to his own 
house ; Benjamin and Hashub that which was against 
their house. After them repaired Azariah by his 
house. From above the horse-gate repaired the 
priests, every one over against his house. After 
them repaired Zadok over against his house." And 
so the rest. At whatever point we touch the moral 
desolation of society, there is our place of building. 
At whatever spot we touch sin, there is our place of 
fighting. The place where our vocation plants us, 
and our usual duties and relations engage us, is the 
one where we shall wear and use God's armor to best 
effect. 

It probably seemed to Azariah a very arduous un- 
dertaking to rebuild the whole city wall, and so it 
might have done if he had had it all to do. But he 
did his little, and Benjamin did his little ; all worked 



THE CHRISTIAN WARFARE. i g 

against their own door, and the work was completed 
inside of two months. 

It seems to you a great undertaking to improve 
the sociability of this church, for instance, and so it 
would be if any one of us had got it all to do. But 
if I do my little, and " A" and " B " do their little, 
and each works over against his own door, it would 
not take even so long as it did to rebuild the walls 
of Jerusalem. 

It seems to you a great undertaking to improve the 
commercial integrity of the city of New York. But 
the commercial integrity of the city is only the sum 
of the commercial integrity that is contributed from 
each store, office, and counting-house of the city. It 
depends on the fidelity with which each man builds 
over against his own door. The politics of the city 
of New York have the reputation of being in a cor- 
rupt state. If they are ever in any better condition 
it will be brought about only by what men do indi- 
vidually to make them better. The indecency of 
American politics is only the sum of the indecencies 
of individual citizens, and our amelioration will have 
to be individual before ever it can be general. It 
will come about by each citizen rebuilding that por- 
tion of the wall that lies against his own door. 

Men are saying these days that American politics 
are too corrupt to make participation in them reason- 
able or respectable. The more diseased a body is, 



I TO 



THE CHRISTIAN WARFARE. 



the more interest it needs to have taken in it. Things 
that are depreciating rarely appreciate by a policy of 
abandonment. Nehemiah stumbling about that night 
on the ragged stones of Jerusalem's fallen wall might 
have said that Jerusalem was too ruinous to make 
recovery reasonable or masonry creditable ; but Ben- 
jamin, Meshullam, and Malchiah, and the rest built 
each over against his own house, and the wall was 
finished in fifty and two days. At whatever point 
we touch the moral desolation of society, there is our 
place of building. At whatever spot we touch sin, 
there is our place of fighting. Wherefore put on the 
whole armor of God. 

My friend, there are only two sides to this contro- 
versy, the side of Christ and the side of antichrist. 
You can not be on both sides. " No man can serve 
two masters," said Christ. On which one of the two 
sides are you ? If you are not promoting godliness, 
you are hindering it. If you are not building up 
Christianity, you are breaking it down. " He that is 
not with me is against me." 



VIII. 



SAMUEL, THE CHILD-CHRISTIAN. 

" / have lent him to the Lord. As long as he 
livcth he shall be lent to the Lord." — I Sam. i. 28. 

OUR morning Bible-lesson has introduced us to 
the little child-prophet of Shiloh. The story has 
formed with us all a part of our cradle-scripture. For 
our one Bible falls easily into a number of particular 
Bibles. Each condition, experience, age, compiles 
from all the various material of the Word a little 
Gospel of its own. Sorrow gathers together such a 
little Testament and uses it. Gladness makes its col- 
lection and reads it. Years that are old and tired 
bind the selected comforts of God into a little volume 
of their own ; and the child, too, has his child-bible, 
and the story of the boy-priest of Shiloh has formed 
with us all a part of our child-bible — one chapter in 
our cradle-scriptures. 

The career of Samuel, in whatever portion con- 
sidered, works in us lively interest and admiration. 
In its purity, strength, and symmetry, it is, I believe, 
the most perfect instance of human life that Script- 

(iii) . 



112 SAMUEL, THE CHILD-CHRISTIAN. 

ure has left detailed to us. We want to know some- 
thing of the childhood out from which such a man 
grew ; the dawn out of which such a day sprang. 

And the little fellow becomes very easily and pleas- 
antly known to us. Just those incidents and details 
are preserved that work upon our hearts coaxingly, 
and shape him to our imaginations without effort, 
making us love him and feel at home with him quite 
before we know why. And then, besides all this, the 
references made to his childhood cover just those 
stages of young development that are at once most 
interesting to us and least understood by us — the re- 
ligious ones. 

It is a wonder to me that there is not more said 
about the children in the Bible. The pulpit is a lit- 
tle afraid of them ; the Bible says not much to them 
or of them. A child is a little conundrum, which 
Scripture does not much to solve. All the converts 
in the New Testament appear to have been adult 
converts. The children are an unknown quantity. A 
child does not admit of statement. The ordinary 
processes of conversion do not seem quite to apply 
to them, either that they do not know enough to be 
made better, or are not quite bad enough to be made 
better. 

This sort of indeterminateness puts parents and pas- 
tors upon dealing with the lambs of the flock tentative- 
ly. We have thought we should like to see a child's 



SAMUEL, THE CHILD-CHRISTIAN. 113 

nature mapped, arranged chronologically, processes 
and transitions dated. These little people have a 
vast amount of experience that lies up pretty close, 
at least, to religion, but experience that does not 
formulate readily, nor reduce willingly to rules, nor 
fall into adult grooves. In this way the minds of 
these Christian mothers become all full of questions 
and hesitancies. I have thought that something 
would be obtainable by them from the record that 
is left us of the child-prophet and boy-Christian of 
Shiloh. 

But in order to get the benefit that we seek from 
these chapters of child-biography, we shall need to 
proceed upon the assurance that however exceptional 
a child Samuel may have been, he was not an ab- 
normal child. Samuel's boyhood differed, in particu- 
lars, from the boyhood of a great many children, 
certainly ; but there is nothing in the narrative to 
suggest that he started in. life with a dowry differing 
from that with which children born of godly parents 
regularly start, or that influences were gathered about 
him that were essentially distinct from those that 
might ordinarily be expected to obtain in the usual 
associations of the Christian home and the Christian 
sanctuary. He may have been in certain respects an 
unusual child, but he was not a miracle child, not 
what we should call an impossible child. 

And this we need to feel certainly and clearly, in 



II 4 SAMUEL, THE CHILD-CHRISTIAN. 

order to have the story help us much. You can 
gather little from him if in essential points he lies at 
a different plane from that at which your children lie. 
There is nothing practical in an impracticable model ; 
nothing exemplary in an inimitable example. And 
so, as there is nothing in the Bible account to hinder, 
we shall treat Samuel as naturally conceived, nat- 
urally born, naturally developed and matured. 

But before specifying any of the delicate and ex- 
quisite qualities of the little Samuel, we shall have to 
say something about his parents. There is no child 
explicable apart from his parentage. The founda- 
tions of one generation are in all respects laid in the 
antecedent generation. In an important sense the 
boy begins to live when his father begins to live. 
The child is the parent continued down into a new 
generation. And so Scripture biography, much of it, 
begins with a statement and exposition of parentage. 
You remember how it was with Jesus, with John the 
Baptist, and now with Samuel. Science to-day lays 
large stress on heredity. Revelation emphasized he- 
redity long before science was born. Francillon says 
that " the lives of the mothers of great men form an 
important branch of biographical literature." The 
author of the old Hebrew chapter quietly asserts the 
same fact by going about to narrate to us Samuel by 
first acquainting us with his mother. 

And then, as believers in Revelation we have an 



SAM UEL, THE CHILD-CHRISTIAN. 1 1 5 

interest in heredity that it is beyond the power of 
secular science either to induce or to appreciate. 
There are numerous intimations in Scripture that in 
the bequest of spiritual legacies the law of heritage 
works with peculiar constancy and vigor. " The 
promise is unto you and to your children." And that 
occurs as a frequent and favorite thought, " I will 
establish my covenant with Isaac for an everlasting 
covenant, and with his seed after him." And this 
principle is wrought into the structure of the whole 
Jewish record. It is as though God held parent and 
child in one individual compact of grace, parental 
faith throwing itself forward upon the child, and 
working in and for the child vicariously ; the faith of 
the parent becoming in time the child's faith, just as 
by a physical law the features of the father and 
mother reappear in time in the child's face, in grow- 
ing distinctness. And so St. Paul wrote to Timothy, 
"When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith 
that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother 
Lois, and thy mother Eunice,'" exactly as though the 
faith which Timothy had was the identical faith that 
his mother and then his grandmother had had 
before him, a constant spiritual heirloom, only pass- 
ing from hand to hand, or rather from heart to heart, 
with the transference of the years and the succession 
of the generations. 

Of Elkanah, Samuel's father, little notice is taken. 



Il6 SAMUEL, THE CHILD-CHRISTIAN. 



A single remark of his indicates the mutual loyalty 
and confidences of husband and wife, and along the 
course of the first chapter is shown his faithful ob- 
servance of religious obligations. But Samuel was 
pre-eminently his mother's boy, as boys are apt to be. 
It was his mother that prayed for him ; his mother 
that took him to Shiloh with the bullocks, the flour, 
and the wine ; his mother that offered him in conse- 
cration, and said : " I have lent him to the Lord ; as 
long as he liveth, he shall be lent to the Lord "; his 
mother that praised God for the child in a song of 
triumph and holy thanksgiving ; and his mother that 
" made him a little coat and brought it to him from 
year to year when she came up with her husband to 
offer the yearly sacrifice." 

And then, as exhibiting the real strength of her 
heart and depth of her devout insight and foresight, 
it is instructive to notice the parallelism between 
Hannah's song and the Magnificat of the Virgin 
Mary — not only in substance, but even in point of 
form ; a song, too, remarkable especially, as one has 
said, " as containing the first designation of the Mes- 
siah under that name." 

Appreciating the quality of the parentage, then, 
we have laid for us a basis of just expectancy touch- 
ing the quality of the offspring. This gives us the 
spiritual home-atmosphere from which the religious 
possibilities of the child caught their first impulses of 



SAMUEL, THE CHILD-CHRISTIAN. uy 

quickening and enlargement, and puts it quite in my 
way to say that if you, as mothers, would have the 
quiet, orderly Christian development of Samuel du- 
plicated in the development of your boy, then you 
must take care that you be duplicates of Hannah in 
warmth and vigor of maternal faith. 

And now there are some things in Samuel that I 
would like to notice, in order to parental guidance 
and encouragement, but which we shall have to no- 
tice with some brevity. It was while Samuel was 
still a child, that, lying asleep in the Tabernacle, ere 
the lamp of God went out, the Lord called him, and 
he answered, " Here am I," and running unto Eli, 
who was sleeping hard by, said : " Here am I, for 
thou calledst me." There is a good deal of interest 
lying just underneath the story-like form of the nar- 
rative. It seems like a kind of day-dawn in his 
young dewy soul. It is rather a pleasing coinci- 
dence that this twilight scene in the lad's life should 
have transpired just at the twilight hour of the morn- 
ing. The season plays a pleasant accompaniment to 
the event. 

Of course we do not know how many times before 
influences which he did not understand may have 
fallen upon him, and a voice, audible or still, that he 
could not name, have sounded within him. Impres- 
sions as distinct as this, perhaps imply earlier ones of 
less distinctness leading up to this. The outer day is 



Il8 SAMUEL, THE CHILD-CHRISTIAN. 



always a good while dawning ; it is natural that the 
inner day should be. But the day was not yet fully 
come. He heard the voice, or felt it, at least, but 
felt it as Eli's. He sensed the divine impression, 
and with nimble promptness responded to it, and 
yet he did not know it as a divine impression, and 
said to Eli, " Thou calledst me." " Samuel did not 
yet know the Lord," the story goes on to say. 

We gather from all this that religion may be in a 
child and sway the child, stirring him into strange 
disquiet as it did Samuel, and waking in him movings 
of thought and mind that ordinary causes decline to 
account for, before even the child comprehends the 
influence under which he has passed or knows how 
distinctly to think about it or accurately to name it. 

The incident encourages us in the opinion that re- 
ligion is one of the very early facts of a little child's 
life ; that it is in no way dependent upon, and only 
in a loose way associated with, the strength of the 
young intellect or the precision of the young- 
thought (just as the woods and the rocks and the 
rivers lie out under the eclipse of the night long after 
the sky begins to wear the certain marks of the mor- 
row) ; that religion is not something which comes to 
the child at an established stage in its development, 
but something which begins to shape itself in the 
child back among its primitive years, like the form- 
less elements of nature moving into comeliness un- 



SAMUEL, THE CHILD-CHRISTIAN. ug 

derthe brooding of the Spirit back in the old creative 
week. Religion in the child is like buds in April, 
only waiting for soft airs to breathe across them. 
The mental attainments of the boy may not under- 
stand clearly nor record with much accuracy the 
noiseless and undefined dawning that is going for- 
ward in his spirit, just as the sun-dial is unconscious 
of the aurora. 

Another thing by which Samuel is distinguished — 
already implied in the foregoing — is that there was 
no break in the thread of his religious life. He grew 
up into a holy man. We discover at no point symp- 
toms of jar or convulsion. He became what he be- 
came along a steady, constant line of unfolding. If 
we use the term technically, we shall have to say that 
he was never converted. It was not necessary for 
him when he became sixteen or eighteen to have 
everything undone in him which up to that time had 
been done, and so to have a third of his natural life 
counted out and erased. He passed through no cri- 
sis of revolution that strewed all his after-life with 
the wreck of young years that had to be broken 
down and abandoned. He did not spend the last 
half of life fighting the first half, and trying to wear 
out the bad momentum of a misspent youth. 

His life was not, therefore, two half-lives that had 
no particular relation to each other, but a single life 
that was continuous and coherent. " In him at 



120 SAMUEL, THE CHILD-CHRISTIAN. 

least," as some one has said of him, " the boy was 
father to the man, and his days had been bound each 
to each by natural piety." Each day melted gradu- 
ally and easily into the next, as color strengthens 
into color along the spectrum. Conversion means a 
complete turning about. Samuel never turned com- 
pletely about. In his life there is no retreat. He 
grew up to be godly. He moved on a right line. 
He came into the kingdom of heaven as a plant 
moves into the air and sunshine, by growing into it. 
" As long as he liveth, he shall be lent to the Lord." 
Such an event needs to have room made for it in our 
theology. 

This is no attempt to make light of the divine 
grace or to dispense with its holy and necessary of- 
fices. Only the case of this little Christian at Shiloh, 
who was never converted, shows us that the same 
grace of God that can recover a man from the error 
of his ways, if applied early enough and with proper 
constancy, can keep the boy from straying into ways 
of error. The boy that has religious character 
enough to admit of his being ungodly, has religious 
character enough to admit of God's grace keeping 
him godly. If a child is far enough along to go 
astray, he is far enough along to have God's grace 
keep him from going astray. A little tottering child 
does not need to be lame before its mother's helping 
hand can work sustainingly and deliveringly for him ; 



SAMUEL, THE CHILD-CHRISTIAN. 121 

nor does the grace of God get its efficacy from the 
disadvantage at which it works. We want room in 
our theology, then, for Samuel, and room in our faith 
to pray and labor that he may be a frequent occur- 
rence in our times and homes. 

We must just mention Samuel's early connection 
with the church and the sanctuary. I suppose that 
this, too, had its strengthening and educating effect. 
It was just in the midst of the sanctuary that the 
Lord's presence became manifest to him, and that 
the divine voice sounded clearly and intelligibly in 
his ears. We may gather from the fact that there is 
great virtue in early and affectionate association with 
the church, and in earnest participation in things 
that concern the church. Things become related to 
us only by our coming into affectionate relation with 
them. There was room in the tabernacle at Shiloh 
for the young Samuel to do something. He was 
not only early planted in the house of the Lord, but 
early established also in the practical service of the 
Lord. 

But great as is the supplementary service which the 
church can render the child, the home is at once his 
physical birth-place and his proper spiritual birth- 
place. It is a Spanish proverb that an ounce of 
mother is worth a pound of clergy. The home is the 
first church, the hearth-stone the first altar, and the 
father and mother the first priests. The home-atmos- 
6 



122 SAMUEL, THE CHILD-CHRISTIAN. 



phere is the element in which all the material suited 
to the nurture of the child becomes prepared and 
adapted. And so the more home there is in the 
home, the more readily and completely does it 
fulfill its offices as a child - church. It is for 
this reason that no prayers ever touch us so 
tenderly or remain with us so faithfully as the 
home-prayers. John Randolph once said : " I should 
have been an atheist if it had not been for one recol- 
lection, and that was that my departed mother used 
to take my little hands in hers and cause me on my 
knees to say, 'Our Father, which art in heaven.' " 

And the home, for the same reason, is the child's 
proper Sunday-school. It is not quite evident how 
Christian parents can ever farm out their children to 
the spiritual nurture of strangers. There are attain- 
ments in Bible knowledge that can be best made very 
likely by accomplished teachers in the church-school, 
so that such a school fills a large and important of- 
fice ; but the catechism that saves a child is a certain 
inimitable commingling of truth and mother, and he 
is an unhappy child and an ill-omened one who does 
not have the helpful lessons of God whispered into 
his young life from Sunday to Sunday and from day 
to day in words that are as tender as they are wise. 

And then, only once more in a word, there is some- 
thing very symbolic in that little linen ephod. Sam- 
uel did not attempt to minister in the old priest's 



! 



SAMUEL, THE CHILD-CHRISTIAN. 123 

robes. He had an ephod that was made to fit him. 
He was a priest, and yet he was a priest in a little 
way. Because he was engaged in holy services he 
did not ape or affect maturity in the doing of them. 
This represents to us the fact that we are not to expect 
nor to want adult opinions, experiences, or behavior 
from child Christians. Christianity that is truly in 
the child and of him will be exactly as fresh and 
dewy as the child is fresh and dewy. It is part of the 
perfection of unripe fruit that it is not mellow. First 
the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear. 

And if you are concerned about your child, who is 
a Christian, because he or she does not think with 
much exactness about religious things or have any- 
thing but a nebulous sort of experience, or live in a 
manner that quite comports with your sense of the 
proprieties and dignities of the holy calling, remem- 
ber that Eli had his ephod and Samuel had his, and 
that Samuel's was purposely made so small that he 
could put it on without difficulty and serve in it with- 
out embarrassment or inconvenience. 

And now, may God bless the dear children of this 
church, keep their little feet from straying, lead them 
through years of beautiful home-nurture, ripen them 
with time into strength and stability of holy thought, 
affection, and life ; and gather them and us at last 
within the portals of the heavenly home and into the 
loves and fellowships of the one family of God. 



IX. 



DAILY BREAD. 

" Give us this day our daily bread." — Mat- 
thew vi. ii. 

This you will recall as the fourth petition, the 
middle petition, in the prayer of our Lord. In this 
the petitioner is asking something for himself. All 
that he has asked for before has been for God. 
" Hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will 
be done." His thought now drops to the level of 
his own necessities. Give us our bread ; forgive us 
our debts ; lead us not into temptation ; deliver us 
from evil. 

The Lord's prayer thus, like the Decalogue, falls 
in two : two tables of law, two leaves of petition. 
The first table of the law concerns our duties to God; 
the first leaf of the prayer concerns the glory of God. 
The second table respects our duties to man; the 
second leaf respects the needs of man. The first 
table contains the laws that are the hardest to obey 
sincerely ; the first leaf, the petitions that are the 
hardest to pray sincerely. Obeying the laws of the 
(124) 



DAILY BREAD. 1 25 

first table is what qualifies us to obey those of the 
second. Praying the petitions of the first leaf is 
what qualifies us to pray those of the second. 

Yet we never suppose that the prayer was com- 
posed with any reference to the Decalogue. All re- 
semblance ceases to be interesting as soon as it is felt 
to be imitation. Resemblance by imitation betrays 
the mechanic ; resemblance without imitation argues 
the artist, the creator. The earth did not become 
spherical to imitate the sun, nor do the leaves on one 
branch become serrate to imitate each other. Those 
leaves unfold up into an outward likeness because 
they unfolded out of an inward likeness. The Dec- 
alogue was not made, it unfolded. The prayer was not 
made, it unfolded ; it was not built, it grew. And 
because Decalogue and prayer both are unfolded from 
out the one mind of God, leaves upon one branch, 
blossoms upon one stem, they show the same hues 
and take the same orderly arrangement. 

That is what makes the study of natural resem- 
blances and of Scriptural likenesses interesting ; it is 
that which gives such zest and entertainment to the 
study of the analogies between nature and the Bible — 
the sense we bring to it that all was germinal in one 
divine mind, and that the laws which govern the proc- 
esses of the intellect, decide the destiny of the soul, 
determine the moulding of a leaf, and rule the sweep 
of a star, all hide their roots in the deep soil of God's 



126 



BAIL Y BREAD. 



eternal thought. God's oneness makes all creation 
kin. 

Our prayer was not made, then ; it grew. This fact 
lends even to the very form of its structure a signifi- 
cance. We feel now at once that there is nothing 
casual in any part of it. And even the order in 
which its petitions occur is a part of the prayer, a 
part of the meaning of the prayer. 

And we want to notice this order a moment. This 
fourth petition, " Give us this day our daily bread," 
is the first one, we have seen, in which the petitioner 
appears to have any thought about himself. This is 
quite exceptional to usage. There are few of us that 
put " daily bread " on the second leaf. We regularly 
make ourselves the topic of our devotions. Prayer 
is apt to be little more than selfishness under the 
patronage of religion ; beggary under the mask of 
worship. In the average prayer, self is the keynote, 
and God and His kingdom only the chord in which 
the strain concludes. In the Lord's prayer the music 
is set in the key of God's glory. 

And this we may believe is the natural order, the 
order in which an angel prays, the form congenial to 
any spirit untouched by the finger of sin. It is the 
order in which Christ prayed, God's glory first and 
personal wants afterward. It is a great accomplish- 
ment to be able to make the Lord's prayer in this 
respect perfectly our prayer. I am not sure that we 



DAILY BREAD. 1 27 

are any of us altogether competent to do so. I am 
not sure that there is not some affectation in praying 
any prayer that makes private interests second to the 
coming of God's kingdom. So easy is it to recog- 
nize the beauty of an ideal and still be inadequate to 
it, to want to pray like the Son of God and still be 
unable to. I bless God that there is a beatitude also 
for those who only hunger and thirst after righteous- 
ness. 

As we repeat this formula with its bread and pri- 
vate interests deferred to the second leaf, I think it 
will occur to us sometimes how much has still to be 
wrought within us before the order of desires in our 
heart will conform to the order of desires in this 
prayer, and before we can sincerely comply with the 
requirement of our Lord, " After this manner, there- 
fore, pray ye." So much for the place which the peti- 
tion of our text occupies in the prayer. 

Another of its features of interest is that it author- 
izes us to carry our religion into the details and . 
every-day affairs of life, — Give us bread. It singles 
out a common matter and puts us in religious rela- 
tion to it. It lets religion into the interior of life, in- 
stead of putting it upon the margin as an appendix 
or after-thought. There is no danger of giving to 
religion an exaggerated greatness, but there is of giv- 
ing to it an isolated greatness — holding it apart, push- 
ing it into the firmament, and making an inaccessible 



128 



DAIL Y BREAD. 



sun of it, instead of making of it the familiar sun- 
sJiine, enswathing every little thing with light, lying 
down among all the valleys, putting a finer life into 
every blade of grass, and a beautiful tint on every 
bead of dew. 

There is truth in what an Englishman has said : 
" We are not to look at religion itself, but at sur- 
rounding things with the help of religion." Our text 
reminds us that we may look at so common a thing 
as bread "with the help of religion." St. Paul's word 
is a reminder to the same effect, when he bids us eat 
and drink to the glory of God. Bread in our text is 
representative ; it means not bread only, but any one 
of the ten thousand little things that go to compose 
life, to help life and minister to it. 

So that our text is a suggestion that there is noth- 
ing belonging to life so petty as to make it unfit for 
us to have a holy desire about it and to reflect upon 
it religiously. There are more little things than any- 
thing else in life, and the whole can not be holy ex- 
cept as the little things that compose it are so. The 
ground is white in winter because there are so many 
little snow-flakes that are so. The forest is green in 
June because there are so many little leaves that are 
so. The earth is beautiful at large because of the 
scrupulous beauty of its particles, and the vast mass 
of our globe bends toward the sun in solar attraction 
because of the delicate responsiveness of each sepa- 



DAILY BREAD. 1 29 

rate atom out of which the mass is built. And all 
these things are God's parables reminding us of that 
of which our text reminds us, that the only way in 
which life can be holy is by having holiness in each 
of the little atoms that add themselves together to 
build life — atoms of desire, of thought, of act, of 
interest. 

It is worth something to know that the fault is in 
us, and not in things, that our life is incessantly fall- 
ing apart into fractions — one religious fraction and 
one secular one. It is worth something to know it, 
even though it lie neither in nature nor in grace to 
have the wrong completely righted yet ; just as it is 
worth something to know that withal our earth is 
so ragged and brown, there is a point high up in the 
sky where its grim crust might be seen to beam like 
Uranus and Neptune, even though no Jacob's ladder 
is let down to us out of heaven upon which we might 
ascend to the point of splendid outlook. 

This oscillation between two moods is the secret of 
a great deal that is awkward and uncomfortable in 
life. We try to enjoy things by themselves and re- 
ligion by itself, and this hinders both a Christian en- 
joyment of things and a rational enjoyment of relig- 
ion ; and so we injure religion and things injure us. 
How to relate the two so that each shall add beauty 
and neither take tarnish is the problem ; how so to 
live that neither our secular life shall be atheistic nor 
6* 



130 DAILY BREAD. 

our religious life pietistic, and how to get into that 
firm constant mood where we shall be able to think 
about commonplace things religiously without af- 
fectation, and be able to speak about commonplace 
things devoutly without cant. This, too, is another 
of those ideals whose mission is less fulfilled in help- 
ing us than in showing us how much we need help ; 
another of those bare rocks on the beach that only 
tell us how far the sea is out and how deeply the tide 
has ebbed. 

And so, as we repeat this formula of devotion with 
its allusion to life's commonplaces, I think we shall 
sometimes be reminded how much has still to be 
wrought within us by effort and by grace, before the 
little things of man and the great things of God will 
affiliate in our minds and lives easily, and before we 
can perfectly accede to the requirement of our Lord, 
" After this manner, therefore, pray ye." 

Another fact of which our text reminds us is, that 
God is the author and dispenser of our common bene- 
fits ; that God is personally near us, and that His 
thought and interest run out into all our little con- 
cerns. " O God, do Thou give to us bread ! " This 
petition is composed in the spirit with which the 
whole of Scripture is animated, that God is person- 
ally immanent in all which transpires, and personally 
sympathetic with all which needs and suffers. " He 
watereth the hills from His chambers; the earth is 



DAILY BREAD. I3I 

satisfied with the fruit of Thy works. He causeth the 
grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service 
of man." " Consider the grass, God arrayeth it ; the 
lilies, God clotheth them ; the ravens, He feedeth 
them. Give us this day our daily bread." 

All this is full of childlikeness and simple-minded- 
ness. It makes God's relation to us very immediate, 
and His goodness to us very direct and personal. It 
almost lifts us over onto the inner-side of God's mer- 
cy-seat, and sets us almost at the exact spot where 
God keeps His bounties. It is, I say, a very childlike 
way of putting the case, " Give us bread to-day." It 
sounds a little foreign and strange when uttered by 
persons of thoughtful and mature years. It sounds 
like an echo from out different times and distant 
generations. Children pray in that way to-day, but 
adults do not unless they are praying an inherited 
prayer brought in from another age. 

And it is remarkable that although our Lord's 
prayer is so short, room was made in it for the doc- 
trine that in every event of nature God is the per- 
sonal agent. That is all involved in the petition of 
our text. So that while it is the habit of to-day to 
interpolate all sorts of factors between God and His 
creatures that would put God beyond the reach of 
our hands and our desires, nevertheless the whole 
Church universal is praying to-day, " O God, do Thou 
give to us to-day our daily bread ! " I think there is 



132 DAILY BREAD. 

a Providence in this. The Lord's prayer seems to me 
in this respect to be very like the little ark among 
the rushes, secreting for future service a little out- 
cast full of beauty and promise. 

Of course, we have no controversy with the intel- 
lectual mood of the age, nor with the scientific con- 
ception of that universe out of whose bosom our 
daily sustenance flows. We have no objections to 
natural laws, only we shall insist on maintaining that 
those law r s are not in such a sense the habits of things, 
that they are not also in a truer sense the habits of 
God. We may not perhaps be interested to take ex- 
ception even to the doctrine of evolution. We may 
incline to the opinion that the details of the life-his- 
tory of the globe are quite as much the province of 
the schoolmen as of the priest or the church. Only 
if it shall be the final verdict of science that the his- 
tory of the universe is a history of development, of 
interminable budding and blossoming, we will insist on 
our right still to maintain that it is God's finger al- 
ways that pushes the sepals aside and lifts the blos- 
som out. Faith will continue then to hold us fast in 
the assurance of God, and science shall be encour- 
aged to go on instructing us in the lines along which 
He works. 

In this mood of holy faith everything we receive is 
warm with the pressure of His hand, who gave it. 
His thoughtfulness and mindfulness are in everything. 



DAILY BREAD. 133 

Everything is revelation. Everything comes along 
an avenue of communication between Him and us. 
We sit at a table spread with His bounty. Every- 
thing speaks of Him ; every line that is drawn is au- 
tographic. We are within hearing and speaking dis- 
tance of Him — within praying distance of Him. 

We are not insensible to the perplexities that en- 
viron us, nor to the mysteries that invest petitions 
like that of our text ; but that God should be deaf 
and dumb would be to faith more of a mystery, and 
that there should be no way out through nature and 
up to God a more perplexing perplexity. The little 
telegraphic coil lies far under the tide, along which 
messages of affection and thought flash from conti- 
nent to continent, but those messages do not tire in 
the abyss nor falter in the darkness, and thoughts 
meet, and hearts are made near across the mystery of 
the sea. So up into the great stillness, on the swift 
telegraphy of prayer, do we send to God our thoughts, 
our loves, and our desires, assured that no message 
falters or grows weary, and that thoughts meet and 
hearts are made near across the mystery of the sky. 

The last thing we shall notice about this petition 
is that it teaches us to ask God for one day's benefits 
at a time : Give us this day (give us to-day) our daily 
bread. It looks as though the petition contempla- 
ted quite another condition of things and state of 
society from what now exists. Christ and His disci- 



134 DAILY BREAD. 

pies could appreciate the exact form of this request. 
We can not. It is not easy to pray devoutly for sus- 
tenance that we already have in store. We are not 
concerned for to-day. Our desires outrun the clock. 
We pray about to-day, but think about to-morrow 
and the day after. We have all we need now, but 
are afraid we shall not have by and by. No man 
is contented with enough ; and yet a man's life con- 
sisteth not in the abundance of the things which he 
possesseth. To be discontented is to desire to find a 
week's manna fallen on the morning of each day. 

One passage in the sermon on the mount teaches 
that sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. This 
passage teaches us that sufficient unto the day is the 
good thereof, " Give us to-day our daily bread." It 
is wanting a surplus above our needs that lies at the 
basis of human worriment. Man is the only animal 
that worries. He is the only animal that prays, and 
the only animal that worries ; and when he worries, 
he worries, as a rule, not about to-day, but about to- 
morrow. I suppose the major part of our suffering 
is in anticipation of what never occurs, and most of 
our pain is of our own making. 

It is a difficult thing to pray, " Give us this day our 
daily bread." It is spoken often, but prayed rarely. 
To all appearance the assurances with which the 
Bible is so full that God really takes care of us im- 
port little to us ; He takes care of the flowers and 



DAILY BREAD. 13$ 

the birds, but man has to shift for himself. We pray 
as though we were children, and drudge as though 
we were outlaws. And Christians slave as hard as 
other people to get that abundance in which the 
Word of God tells us that a man's life doth not con- 
sist. We pray as though we had a Father, and toil, 
strain, and worry as though we were orphans ; and 
inconsistencies like this destroy the confidence of 
" worldly men " both in our faith and in our religion. 
The only way that Christians can persuade the world 
that God is trustworthy, is by trusting Him ourselves, 
and carrying ourselves serenely in the presence of 
contingencies. It is useless urging men to come and 
lay all their cares on Jesus unless our life makes it 
evident that we have laid our own there. 

" Give us this day our daily bread," then, means 
that the Christian policy of life is to receive life's 
necessities, bear its burdens, meet its temptations, 
encounter its uncertainties, and endure its griefs one 
day at a time, and to depend upon God to make us 
sufficient for each day's crosses and emergencies. It 
is better to go to sleep to-night thanking God for 
what He has helped us do to-day than asking Him to 
help us do as much and more to-morrow. " Give us to- 
day our daily bread," — there is nothing in the Lord's 
prayer about to-morrow. It is Christian to feel as 
the night-traveller does, who knows that the road be- 
fore his feet will become light just as fast as it is illu- 



136 DAILY BREAD. 

mined by the candle which he carries and which 
moves as he moves. 

How much we admire serenity becomes evident by 
reflecting how impossible it would be to conceive of 
Jesus Christ as worrying. One instance of Christ's 
worrying would break the power of the Gospel, and 
we weaken it when we worry. The mirage makes 
distant things seem more beautiful than they are ; 
why should not the heart be as generous as the 
eye ? 

But anxiety is a chill that strikes back from to- 
morrow into to-day. It multiplies ill and at the same 
time subtracts comfort. It doubles evils and halves 
joys, and so quadruples life's disagreeablenesses. Wor- 
rying destroys our power to discharge well to-day's 
duties. It divides our power and doubles our bur- 
den. It spoils our work and spoils us. Anxiety how 
we are going to get along to-morrow wears out more 
lives than considering how we are getting along to- 
day. And to-day's failures brought about by to-day's 
worry go far toward breaking us down by to-morrow's 
burdens when they come. The days all fit into each 
other. To-day's success is half-parent to to-morrow's 
success ; and failure, too, genders after its kind. 

And so life becomes after all a matter of to-day, 
" Give us to-day our daily bread " ; each moment is a 
crisis, and all eternity is the child of now. That life 
is blessed that is made up of days that are manly, 



BAIL Y BREAD. 1 3 7 

and that day is manly whose moments are severally 
filled with the strength of God. 

And now may this petition of our text be to us 
evermore a meaningful spot in the prayer of our 
Lord ; may it establish us more and more in a holy 
appreciation of the little things of life, letting us hear 
again the voice which spoke unto Peter, " What God 
hath cleansed, that call not thou common." May it 
nurture in us the fixed assurance of God as the per- 
sonal power that works in every event, and the per- 
sonal goodness that resides in every benefit, knitting 
us in close gratitude to Him from whom cometh 
down every good and every perfect gift. And finally, 
may it foster within us that quiet confidence, that 
beautiful serenity, that belongs of right to him who 
rests upon the hourly might of God, and who lades 
each separate day with the finest fruits of his manli- 
ness and of his power. 



X. 



LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION. 

" And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us 
from evil." — Matthew vi. 13. 

The prayer of which these words form the conclu- 
sion is known by the Church as the Lord's prayer. 
And it is the Lord's prayer, in the main at least, not 
only in the sense that the Lord was the author of it, 
and the teacher of it, but in the deeper sense that it 
is our Lord's own wants speaking themselves up to 
God. It is the Lord's prayer. He prayed it ; He 
not only prescribed it, He prayed it. He did not say 
it to His disciples for them to pray it after Him, but 
it became their prayer through its first having been 
His prayer. It was the best prayer He knew how to 
offer. It couched His own deepest longing. It be- 
trays His own deepest sense. It is the picture of 
His own soul turned Godward. 

It is, then, a wonderful prayer of revelation. As 
such we want always to regard it. Some of the 
longest, deepest looks that we gain into the spirit of 
Christ we gain while watching Him at His devotions. 
And when we use this formula of devotion we want 
(138) 



LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION. 139 

to feel always that these are just the words in which 
Jesus poured out His own deepest needs to His 
Father. The sense will bring Jesus nearer to us, and 
will encourage us by the reflection that we are deemed 
worthy of trying to pray as good a prayer as our 
Lord knew how to pray. He is not trying to pray 
down at our level, but trying to stimulate us to pray 
up at His level. It is only an instance of what our 
dear Lord was all the time trying to do — trying to lift 
men ; who was sent into the world not to condemn 
the world, but that the world through Him might be 
saved. 

As soon as we feel that this prayer was really the 
Lord's voicing of His own aspirations and necessities, 
we begin at once to realize what a commentary is 
this closing petition on our Lord's own inward possi- 
bilities of sin : — Lead us not into temptation, but 
deliver us from evil. It reminds us of what is said 
of Christ in the letter to the Hebrews, " For we 
have not an high-priest which can not be touched with 
the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points 
tempted like as we are." How easy, how necessary, 
then, it was for Christ to pray, " Lead us not into 
temptation, but deliver us from evil." He could not 
have succeeded in redeeming us unless He had been so 
human as to make it possible for Him to sin while 
attempting to redeem us. For in that He Himself 
hath suffered, being tempted, He is able to succor 



140 LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION. 

them that are tempted. This very letter to the He- 
brews which, with such fertility of illustration, exhib- 
its the priestliness of Jesus, is the letter which seems 
to be trying to exhibit with greatest possible graphi- 
calness His humanness, His nearness to us, and like- 
ness to us in point of susceptibility to evil and need 
of the great help of God. And this we mention not 
to belittle Jesus, but to get Jesus so close to us that 
the fulness of the Godhead dwelling in Him may be- 
come available to us for our deliverance. 

Perhaps this was not the first time that He had 
prayed this same prayer, " Our Father who art in 
heaven, hallowed be Thy name," and so along to the 
petition of our text, Deliver us from evil. " Cold 
mountains and the midnight air witnessed the fervor 
of His prayer "; and witnessed possibly the fervor of 
this same prayer that He now teaches to His disciples, 
and that He now teaches them, it may be, because of 
the splendidness of the service which it had already 
rendered Him. 

As soon as we begin to conceive how much of our 
Lord's own soul there was in this prayer, I think we 
shall feel drawn more and more to associate the clos- 
ing petition of it with the sore temptation so recently 
experienced by Him in the wilderness. I think this 
final request is an echo from out the forty days. Men's 
best prayers are always the outcome of their experi- 
ence, the fruitage of life. Their prayers can be only 



LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION. i 4I 

as intense as their lives are intense. It is experience 
always that has to inflame the incense of our devo- 
tions. Jesus had in the wilderness come under the 
power of temptation. He had not stood alone 
against it, but had been strengthened by the power 
of God ; armed with the sword of the Spirit, which is 
the Word of God ; ministered unto by the angels, 
which are the messengers of God, and had in this 
way come off conqueror over the evil one. Ever 
after it would have been spontaneous with Jesus to 
cry, O Father, lead me not into temptation, but de- 
liver me from evil. And as He foresaw the wilder- 
nesses of trial through which all His disciples would 
have to pass, He could hardly do otherwise than say 
to them, " After this manner, therefore, pray ye, Lead 
us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." Thus 
the prayer acquires new preciousness in our eyes as 
carrying within it the fulness of Christ's soul, and 
bearing upon it the stamp of His history. It is hence- 
forth not only the model prayer, an expression which 
smacks of the cabinet-shop, — it is a prayer that is in- 
tensely biographical of Christ. 

As soon now as we begin to trace a connection 
between this petition and our Lord's own temptation 
and deliverance, I am sure we shall almost insensibly 
grow into the conjecture that what He here prays 
for is not simply that He and they may be delivered 
from evil, but from the Evil One, just as He had been. 



142 LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION. 

It was not the evil considered as a principle, but the 
Evil One considered as a person, that Jesus had con- 
fronted, and by divine help conquered in the wilder- 
ness. In the form in which the petition of our text 
stands in the Greek it may be either the one or the 
other. The authorities are very evenly divided upon 
the interpretation proper to be accorded it. Cer- 
tainly the expression gains greatly in strength and 
liveliness if rendered personally, " Deliver us from 
the Evil One." 

Mere abstract principle, whether good or bad, 
neither comes very close to us, nor takes very strong 
hold upon us. As Schiller once wrote, " It is the 
personal always that has to prevail." Evil principle 
is as much actualized and intensified by having the 
Devil behind it, as good principle is by having God 
behind it. The Scriptures do not treat the evil as a 
bald abstraction. In something the same way, though 
less in degree, of course, we suffer by dropping the 
Devil from our creeds that we do in dropping God 
from our creeds. In one case the personal strength 
of the good is gone, so that we do not respect it so 
much, and in the other the personal strength of the 
evil is gone, so that we do not fear it and abhor it so 
much. 

The evil was a very personal thing, evidently, both 
to Christ and to the writers of the New Testament. 
It was the wicked One that catcheth away the seed 



LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION. 143 

that was sown in the heart. It was the Devil that 
Jesus confronted in the wilderness. It was Satan 
that entered into Judas Iscariot. It was that He 
might destroy the Devil that Christ became partaker 
of flesh and blood; so we read in Hebrews. It is 
emphatically person against person. Likewise in the 
sixth of Ephesians, it was because their crusade was 
against the energies and hosts of Satan that the 
Ephesian Christians were enjoined to put on the 
whole armor of God. " Arm yourselves with God's 
complete panoply, seeing that it is with nothing less 
than the Devil that you have to cope, for our wres- 
tling is not against man, but against the governments 
and powers of darkness, against the spiritual armies 
of wickedness." 

You discover in it all the out-and-out personal char- 
acter of the engagement — not the Church against the 
world, not the Church against the abstract principles 
of evil, but the Church against the Devil and the per- 
sonal hosts of the Devil. Above all (this is the way 
in which he continues his strain of inspiriting injunc- 
tion), above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith 
ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the 
wicked — which is singular in the Greek, and means, 
therefore, all the fiery darts of the wicked One. And 
so in general, as we come closer to the Bible concep- 
tion of the moral warfare that is waging in the world, 
the more impressed I am sure we shall be with the 



I 4 4 LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION. 

intense personality of the whole engagement — the 
more natural we shall find it to suppose that when 
Jesus composed this final petition He remembered 
the Evil One that He had encountered in the wilder- 
ness, and so taught His disciples also to pray, " Lead 
us not into temptation, but deliver us from the Evil 
One." 

And now sometimes when we have prayed this pe- 
tition — " Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us 
from the evil " — I think we have been a little puz- 
zled to know what it is really that we have prayed 
for. There are two or three things about it over 
which our ideas are liable to trip. Our faith tries to 
move along through it, but is held back a little by 
our thoughts that do get entangled sometimes in the 
doctrinal difficulties of the petition. It is consider- 
able strain to a man's faith to offer a petition that he 
is not clear upon, and then expect God both to re- 
construct the petition so that it shall be intelligent 
and to answer it in the spirit of its reconstruction. 
He does much of that, doubtless. His gifts are full 
of light, though our asking may be full of darkness. 
His answers are adjusted to better requests than we 
are wise enough to offer. Nevertheless, it is a great 
help to faith that it be intelligent, and a great relief 
to devotion that it understand itself. So that our 
prayer will become richer and stronger as our thought 
clears itself, and as we understand with some precis- 



LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION. 



ion what it is we plead for when we pray, " Lead us 
not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." 

And here we must not be satisfied to interrogate 
the single passage that is before us. That is a way 
of studying the Bible that is always getting men into 
trouble. It will not answer to say that the sun's 
light is red because we get red light from the sun, 
or that it is green because we get green light from 
the grass. So these separate texts that we preach 
from, and isolated chapters that we read, are only so 
many divided strands of color that need to be com- 
bined to form the pure white light radiant from God 
in His holy Word. What majestic breadth of doc- 
trine we shall have in the Christian Church when it is 
understood that a man needs to understand the whole 
Bible in order to appreciate the truth of any part of 
it, and that whatever text we are considering, the 
whole volume of revealed truth ranges itself in front 
of that text as its fit vestibule of entrance. Let us 
remember that this morning and always. 

Now the first thing perhaps in our text that has 
embarrassed us when we have attempted to pray it, is 
that it implies that temptation is a thing to be dep- 
recated ; " Lead us not into temptation." We are 
quite persuaded from our own experience and from 
the general tenor of Scripture that temptation, what- 
ever its possibilities of harm, is nevertheless matter 
of gratitude rather than of lament. Temptation has 
7 



146 LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION. 



led us into sin a great many times. Without tempta- 
tion Adam would not have fallen ; without tempta- 
tion you and I would not have fallen. But without 
temptation would any of us have risen? What 
would character be without temptation ? 

Life is a great training-school. The revelations of 
God and the great redemption of God, with all its 
accessories, are for the sake of character. Character 
is the one only thing on earth that will not admit of 
being put upon the market. Character is treasure 
laid up in heaven ; character is salvation ; character 
is life eternal. 

And how are we going to obtain character? How 
do we gain bodily stamina? How but by having the 
body submitted to physical test, trial, — which is only 
another name for physical temptation. The very in- 
nermost idea of temptation is testing, straining. The 
exact idea of all discipline is to make a man larger by 
straining judiciously the thing that he is at present. 
Children are not sent to school that they may know 
how to work problems in duodecimals, but that they 
may have their mental powers tested, and so have 
mental stamina wrought within them. And character 
is in the heart just what intellect is in the mind, and 
muscle in the body ; it is moral stamina, ethical tough- 
ness, and nothing toughens but discipline ; and disci- 
pline means trial, strain, temptation. That is what our 
experience teaches. Temptation is moral gymnastics. 



LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION. 



We must not confound innocence with character. 
Innocence is only the possibility of character. Inno- 
cence is to character what the white spotless page is 
to the strong lines and glowing periods that are put 
upon that page. The very word character has a fine 
philosophy in it, and means an imprint — a sculptur- 
ing, and temptation is the chisel. Innocence is only 
the white marble out of which is chiselled the figure 
of the man, and upon which is wrought the lineaments 
of the man. And temptation is the chisel. Adam 
failed, not because he had not innocence, but because 
he had not character. Adam out among the thorns 
and the thistles, eating bread in the sweat of his brow, 
was a better thing than Adam blamelessly luxuriating 
among the delicacies of the garden. 

Innocence is poor capital upon which to do the 
business of life. Innocence is negative, character i3 
positive. A large part of manhood is made up of 
sturdiness, and sturdiness means warfare, and warfare 
means an enemy. Character in man is what gnarli- 
ness is in the oak, and gnarliness in the oak is tem- 
pest converted into knotted fibre. I could not pray, 
then, to be exempt from temptation. I shall have to 
understand something other than this from our peti- 
tion, " Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us 
from evil/' 

The Bible, too, only repeats the lesson that experi- 
ence teaches. History really began with the tempta- 



1 48 LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION. 

tion. The Bible takes no interest in what transpired 
in Eden till the Devil came in. It is all pure plati- 
tudes till there is warfare — meaningless to the inno- 
cent pair that lived, meaningless to the guilty genera- 
tions that came after. History began only when 
character began to be wrought out in our first par- 
ents by the graving tool of temptation. So Noah 
was tested into fitness to become the second progeni- 
tor of the race. We read in the eighth of Deuter- 
onomy that God led Israel forty years in the wilder- 
ness to humble them and to prove them. Peter was 
sifted by Satan, Paul was buffeted by Satan, and our 
Lord graduated into the ministry from under the tute- 
lage of Satan. " We glory in tribulations," Paul writes 
to the Romans, " knowing that tribulation worketh 
endurance." Even the Captain of our salvation was 
made perfect through suffering. "Who are those 
which are arrayed in white robes, and whence came 
they? They are they which came out of great tribu- 
lation." "Therefore, count it all joy when ye fall 
into divers temptations, knowing this, that the trying 
of your faith worketh patience (that is, endurance), 
and let endurance have her perfect work, that ye may 
be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." I could not 
pray, then, to be exempt from temptation, and shall 
have to understand something other than this from 
our petition, " Lead us not into temptation, but de- 
liver us from evil." 



LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION. 149 

And then I mention in a word, one other thing about 
this petition that sometimes perplexes some of us 
when we undertake to repeat it and to pray it ; and 
that is, that it implies that God does sometimes lead 
men into temptation, and deliberately exposes them 
to the possibility of being seduced into evil ; notwith- 
standing that it is taught by St. James, " Let no man 
say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God, for 
God can not be tempted of evil, neither tempteth He 
any man" 

We have seen with what power temptation operates 
to the establishment and enlargement of human man- 
liness. A tuition so fraught with beneficent influence 
it is spontaneous with us to suppose must have been 
under divine supervision and control. And with the 
supposition the utterances of God's Word are almost 
invariably in evident accord. We remember that 
Israel's education of trial in the wilderness was under 
the direction of God. We recall that it was by the 
Spirit that Christ was led up into the wilderness for 
the express purpose of being tempted by the Devil. 
St. Paul distinctly recognizes his thorn in the flesh as 
having been thrust into him in conformity with God's 
will and in furtherance of God's purpose. In the 
tenth of first Corinthians the apostle in utmost dis- 
tinctness represents God as the maker of our tempta- 
tions, the wisdom that adjusts them to our powers of 
resistance, and the grace that provides for us a way 



150 LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION. 

of escape. And when St. James says that God is not 
tempted of evil, neither tempteth He any man, it is 
not after all to deny God's agency in the shaping of 
our temptations. This appears readily from what 
follows on a little later. It is only to rebuke the dis- 
position (prevalent then as it is now) to suppose that 
God so shapes His temptations and so forces them 
upon us as to allow us no alternative but to submit 
to them, and to evade human responsibility for sin 
by vesting the responsibility exclusively in God. 
Such position is cowardly, and contradicts every man's 
consciousness, and so James sharply rebukes it. 

This touches the difficulties with which we are most 
likely to be embarrassed in this petition. 

And now, with the Calvinists, we shall not let the 
two clauses of our text stand, each of them, for a dis- 
tinct petition, as though " Lead us not into tempta- 
tion " was a little prayer by itself, and " Deliver us 
from evil" another little prayer by itself ; rather shall 
we discover in them one desire making two attempts 
to declare itself — the Christly desire that God, who 
is the soul's true disciplinarian, will not be to us the 
author of temptation without being to us at the same 
time the author of deliverance. All of which St. 
Paul expresses a little differently when he says that 
God " will not suffer us to be tempted above that we 
are able, but will with the temptation also make a 
way of escape that we may be able to bear it." God 



LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION. 



led St. Paul into temptation in the bestowal of the 
thorn, but not without delivering him from the pow- 
er of the evil ; and He said unto him, " My grace is 
sufficient for thee." The Holy Spirit led Jesus into 
the presence of the Devil, but not without delivering 
Him from the power of the Devil. " Then the Devil 
leaveth Him, and behold, angels came and ministered 
unto Him." Lead us not into temptation without 
delivering us from the power of the evil. 

Therefore, my friends, we will ever remember that 
life is a training-school ; that its appliances are ar- 
ranged with reference to the establishment within us 
of that which is undecaying, and which we may carry 
over with us into the vast life we are so rapidly en- 
tering. We will try and not repine at the warfare 
we have so constantly to wage against the evil that 
is within us and without us. Every thorn in the 
flesh and in the heart, we will remember, has in it a 
gracious purpose ; is pressed by a divine hand and 
nicely adjusted to our endurance ; that there is noth- 
ing in life so corrupt that it need defile us, nothing in 
experience so heavy that it need crush us. Only we 
will remember that it is not safe for us to go into our 
wildernesses alone, but like Jesus, who entered there 
in the power of the Spirit. Under the stress of trial 
and difficulty of any kind it is only God's grace that 
is sufficient for us, and in that grace will we find 
our security. We will take God into partnership 



1 5 2 LEAD US NO T INTO TEMP TA TION. 

with us in sustaining the pressure of life, and ever- 
more pray of Thee, O Father, that Thou wilt never 
lead us into temptation without also standing by us 
to lead us through the temptation out into strong and 
gracious deliverance from its evil power, " For Thine 
is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. 
Amen." 



XL 



PARABLE OF THE SOWER. 

"Behold, a sower went forth to sow." — Matthew 
xiii. 3. 

JESUS was at the seaside. You have remarked 
how little of our Lord's preaching was done in the 
town or between walls. The founder of Christianity 
had no house, and the world learned its first lessons 
in Christian doctrine out of doors. The first 
apostles were out-of-door men. Eighteen cent- 
uries of Christianity have been colored by that fact. 
We never can get far away from our bodies or the 
physical influences that environ them. Our thoughts 
take a complexion from the air we breathe. 

Not only the New Testament, but the Old was 
made out where the sun was shining and the wind 
blowing. As has been said of Moses : " From the 
time when his parents put him on the waters in the 
wicker-boat to the time when he passed from the 
crest of a mountain into heaven, Moses was a child 
of nature." And so on, through the later worthies 
of the old time, clear out to the last of the Twelve 
7* (153) 



154 PARABLE OF THE SOWER. 



camping out in Patmos, seeing visions, while he list- 
ened to the sea breaking over the rocks with the 
voice of many waters. And this parable of the sower 
could only have grown up out of doors. Our Lord 
had extemporized a church and a pulpit. His con- 
gregation was on the shore, and He spoke to them 
from off the prow of a little fishing-smack. 

It is one of the features of the Lake of Gennesaret 
that it is girt with hills edging themselves seaward 
with a margin of beach upon which the little waves 
from off the Lake roll up plashing to-day, just as on 
that morning they crept up over the fine white sand 
and touched the bare feet of the Lord's nearest audi- 
tors. There were points, are points, where the hills 
recede farther from the water-edge than elsewhere ; 
and it was in some just such pocket of intervale, 
quite likely, that the assembled country-men and 
country-women stood listening to the sermon of the 
boat-preacher. 

All the facts of husbandry wrought into the para- 
ble of the sower were very probably illustrated along 
the slopes lying under the sun in easy view of Jesus 
and His lake-side congregation. It was a sort of ob- 
ject-teaching, a kind of picture-book lesson ; and it is 
impressive the degree in which human speech has be- 
.come fraught with the simple metaphors imported 
into it that day on the western shore of Gennesaret. 
All the languages are in this way having Christ's 



PARABLE OF THE SOWER. 155 

touch put upon them, and there seems almost a pro- 
phetic import in the polyglot inscription that marked 
the Lord's cross on Calvary. 

An English traveller has himself visited and de- 
scribed a nook upon this same beach that so perfectly 
fulfills the features of the parable, that it might have 
been the exact spot at which the little pulpit-boat 
lay moored, heaving languidly with the gentle swell 
from the Lake, while Jesus talked with His hearers of 
the sower that went forth to sow. 

These words introduce the first of Christ's parables. 
His parables admit of pretty easy classification into 
three groups, delivered at successive periods of His 
ministry, and adapted to successive stages in the de- 
velopment of His doctrine. The first group, number- 
ing eight (one additional to the seven found here in 
this thirteenth of Matthew), are only occupied with a 
presentation of the kingdom of heaven in certain of 
its general laws and governing principles. They are 
in a manner formal and preparatory, and do not by 
any means let us into the best, sweetest, or deepest 
things of the heavenly kingdom. And of this pre- 
liminary group the parable introduced by our text is 
the initial one. 

And it can hardly have been an accident that it 
occupies this position of pre-eminence. It intimates 
some things in regard to the kingdom that would 
hardly have been left long unsaid. It indicates that 



156 PARABLE OF THE SOWER. 

Christ thought it His mission to set in operation some 
forces that lay off from the track of man's natural de- 
velopment, and to introduce into individual life and 
into civilization, something that the human heart was 
not competent in itself to produce, and that it did 
not lie along the course of any historic development 
to afford. 

He sets it forth in this His initial parable, that 
Christianity, the kingdom of heaven, is a new thing 
in the heart and in the world, and not some old 
thing attained to a higher point of evolution. It 
comes forth from the heart, but not till something 
has been put into the heart, that the heart of itself 
never could have yielded. The Galilean hill-slopes 
were to yield a wheat-harvest, but not till something 
had been covered up beneath their warm and juicy 
soil which no tropical fertility even could unaidedly 
have engendered. The heart, when once it has taken 
hold of the seed-truths of God, with warm and fertil- 
izing embrace, can lead them forth into germination, 
and press them forward to fruitage ; but not the loam 
without the wheat-kernels can procure the harvest 
of wheat, and not the heart without the seed-truths 
can work an inward heavenly yield. 

And that is one of Christianity's most distinctive 
features, and naturally came to prompt expression. 
The heart, like the soil, can not yield an increase till 
it has been planted, and the seed-kernels of Christian 



PARABLE OF THE SOWER. ^7 

character are the truths of God. No urgency of cult- 
ure pressing upon the unsowed soil can entice from 
it or extort from it a harvest. It is not in the soil to 
cover itself with fruitage till it has first received 
something into it which is not of it. Christian char- 
acter is not human nature coming forward into blos- 
som along a line of natural unfolding. This was so 
vast and startling a thought that it demanded from 
the Lord quick and Clear illustration. Culture regu- 
larly aims to make the most of what a man is by nat- 
ure ; Christianity aims to sow him with possibilities 
that are not in him by nature, and so to make of him a 
different thing from what he is by nature, and a better. 

That is the meaning of the dropping of the seed 
upon the Gennesaret hillside. We encounter every- 
where the doctrine and the fact of development. 
This early parable takes pains to teach that the king- 
dom of heaven in a man is not a thing of development ; 
that it is not in a man to be a Christian except as 
the revealed truths of God work in him a new set of 
possibilities, that natural generation knows nothing 
of. It is a homely illustration, but a pertinent orte, 
that tadpoles in a dark box, though placed in run- 
ning water, will increase in size, become larger tad- 
poles, but it requires light to change them into frogs. 
Atid, so, it is one of the threshold lessons of our para- 
ble that Christianity is not a late blossom upon the 
branch of antecedent civilization, but that it is a new 



158 PARABLE OF THE SOWER. 



force, dropped from God like a seed-kernel out of the 
air, deposited and germinating in the soil of the ma- 
tured heart and of the old civilization. 

And a second reason why the parable of the sower 
naturally heads the list of parables is, that it has to 
do with a matter that is really preliminary to all real 
Gospel effects. Its specific object is not so much to 
plant in the hearts of auditors any of the essential 
truths of the Gospel as to consider the various de- 
grees of readiness with which different classes of 
hearers consent to having them planted. This para- 
ble of our Lord's is not a sermon on the Gospel so 
much as it is a sermon on Gospel-HEARING. The 
first thing that a boy on commencing to study has to 
learn is how to study. The first thing needed by 
those who would become profited hearers of the Gos- 
pel was how to hear the Gospel. Christ's first par- 
abolic discourse then, naturally enough, was not on 
the Gospel, but on how to hear the Gospel. 

We could conceive of some means having been 
adopted by which the divine element necessary to 
conversion could have been conveyed, other than that 
of the spoken word and the hearing ear. But that 
is the method which God has selected, and the one 
which He most regularly blesses. The kingdom of 
God begins in a man by the lodgment in him of a 
divine truth, and that lodgment is quite uniformly 
effected by the hearing of the ear. " Faith cometh 



PARABLE OF THE SOWER. j^g 

by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." So 
that the first point of concern is that men should be- 
come good hearers. " How shall they call on Him 
in whom they have not believed, and how shall they 
believe in Him of whom they have not heard ? " " It 
pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save 
them which believe." Christ's final command to His 
disciples was, that they should " go into all the world 
and preach the Gospel." The Holy Ghost glorified 
this chosen method of propagating the Gospel by 
revealing itself at Pentecost in the form of flaming 
tongues. 

With the truth which we are to preach prescribed, 
successful preaching becomes primarily, then, a mat- 
ter of good hearing. It is the good hearer that 
makes the good sermon. Quite naturally, then, 
Christ's first parable would not aim so much to set 
forth Gospel truth as to set forth the attitude in 
which, in this matter of hearing, auditors should hold 
themselves toward Gospel truth. This parable we 
will always remember, then, as a discourse on hearing, 
and so when Christ has come to the end of it, He 
aptly sums it all up by saying, " Take heed, therefore, 
how ye hear." 

Hearers He resolves into four classes ; and, follow- 
ing the lead of Christ's thought and illustration, we 
shall notice rather briefly what sort of hearers each 
of these four groups includes. 



160 PARABLE OF THE SOWER. 

The first are the pathway hearers — what our ver- 
sion calls the wayside hearers. Paths were worn 
across the field by the frequent passage of man and 
beast, and seed that was thrown upon such trodden 
and compacted ground would lie there without root- 
ing till the wind blew it away or the birds came and 
devoured it up. The soil at these points was as 
good as any the field afforded, quite likely ; in fact, 
there is no disparaging word said of the soil in this 
whole parable ; but the seed that fell on the pathways 
really came into no relation with the soil. The pos- 
sibilities of the seed were not reached by the possibili- 
ties of the ground. Soil remained soil and seed seed. 
Each let the other alone. 

These " pathway " hearers are not necessarily inat- 
tentive or uninterested ones. Some of the most care- 
ful listeners in every congregation are of the number, 
and never let the truth lodge in them at a point low- 
er than the surface, and work- down into that spot of 
moral fertility and spiritual juiciness in them where 
truth is set germinating. Christian truth gets viewed 
by these people as a purely foreign and outside mat- 
ter. A sermon is to them pretty much the same 
thing as a lecture, with some little difference in topic 
and method of treatment. A sermon becomes to 
these people food for thought, and in that sense edu- 
cating and disciplinary; but it takes no moral hold of 
them. It and they are so far apart that it gains no 



PARABLE OF THE SOWER. 

grip upon them. They will not be stimulated to- 
morrow to do the thing which the sermon encour- 
ages to-day. It slides over them without leaving 
any interior effects. It is not let into adjacence to 
the springs of character. It does not germinate, 
therefore ; protrudes no roots. 

These hearers are intellectual hearers ; brainy, but 
not hearty. There is a light in their eye, but light 
without warmth would make winter out of midsum- 
mer anywhere. They are taken by brilliancy and 
sparkle. They go away and think about the sermon, 
discuss it ; but there is no blood in their thinking and 
no pulse in their criticisms. They dissect the sermon 
in the same manner of heartlessness that an anato- 
mist does a dead body. They are like him in regard- 
ing the subject of their cutting and carving as not be- 
ing really a living thing ; it is with thern only the 
taking to pieces of a manikin. 

The soil that lay along these pathways about the 
Gennesaret fields was as full of fertile possibilities, so 
far as we can gather, as any other portion of ground ; 
but the seed and the fertility did not get so near to 
one another as mutually to react. It is so with these 
"pathway" hearers. They have heart enough, and 
genial mellow impulse enough. Some of the most 
impassioned and exuberant people we have are of the 
class we are considering, but the difficulty is that the 
revealed truths of God do not get down into the 



1 62 PARABLE OF THE SOWER. 

warm spot of their exuberance, and so never get fer- 
tilized. And so they see only with their eyes and 
feel only with their brains. They rate preaching on 
the basis of its smartness. Such men come to church 
with a keen intellectual curiosity, but not spiritually 
hungry. They come with something of that same 
mood of mind with which we gather about the table 
at some elaborate banquet, more interested to see 
how the table is laid than to find something which 
will reach a hungry spot and send us away interiorly 
fed. 

The second class of hearers is denoted by the seed 
which fell on stony ground. This mode of rendering 
hardly gives us a fair picture of the thing intended. 
The new Revision says that some seed fell upon 
rocky places — places, that is, where only a thin skin 
of soil lay over an understratum of rock. Every Gal- 
ilean would immediately appreciate the allusion, and 
over some one of the limestone slopes lying just be- 
fore the eye of the preacher may have been laid that 
thin coating of earth which would aptly illustrate his 
reference. 

In this class of hearers there is, then, something of 
a gain over the former. The first did not open them- 
selves up at all to receive the seed ; these latter let 
the seed in a little ways. They do appreciate the 
moral import of the truth, and let it down far 
enough into their hearts to have the seed roused to 



PARABLE OF THE SOWER. 163 

germination ; but there was not yielded up place 
enough to give large room for root. This gives us 
as our second class the shallow-rooted hearers. Hav- 
ing little room for root and little space for growing 
downward, for a little they grow all the more rapidly 
upward. 

This is not intended to represent shallow men, but 
men who take hold of the revealed truth of God in 
only a shallow and half-hearted way. They receive 
the Word of God and welcome it up to a certain 
point. They never reach high water, and have no 
purpose to. Only a fraction of their powers and im- 
pulses get drawn into moral and Christian play. 
They hold themselves considerably in reserve, and 
hardly rise above a certain level. What growing they 
do is done during the first few weeks or days of their 
Christian life. They have what answers fairly well 
to conversion, but do not make large advances into 
the forward-lying territory of sanctification ; sanctifi- 
cation is conversion spreading through the whole 
man. They are uniform in their behavior and expe- 
rience and eminently fixed in their views. The root 
presses into no deeper soil, and so the top rises into 
no higher sky. 

These Christians are without experience, save an 
old experience. So that they have no experience to 
speak of. They do not grow. They press against 
rock — which is well in building, but bad in growing. 



164 PARABLE OF THE SOWER. 

They gain no new victories, but are like the children 
of Israel, who, when they came into the Promised 
Land, cast out at once all the Canaanites they ever 
cast out, and the rest they kept a place for to the 
perpetual embarrassment of their history and impov- 
erishment of their life. They have no root in them- 
selves, and consequently can have no great depend- 
ence placed upon them in times of stress. When put 
to the test they fall away. They are like trees whose 
roots lie along the surface of the ground — dry 
weather makes bad work with them and wind blows 
them down. 

They attend to the truth and desire to hear it 
preached in its full breadth and scope, but reserve to 
themselves the right to utilize just as much or little 
of that truth as suits their pleasure and convenience. 
They are not ready to become all that the truth, 
if left to its own workings in them, would make of 
them. They began well. They are like the Gala- 
tians, to whom Paul wrote : " Ye did run well ; who 
did hinder you ? " 

And these Christians get to the point where really 
truth does not seem to do much for them. New 
truth slides off from them. They are like ground 
out of which the frost has only partly come in the 
spring, so that when the rain falls it can not enter 
the earth penetratingly, but runs off uselessly and 
fruitlessly. The pulpit keeps giving them truth, but 



PARABLE OF THE SOWER. ^5 

knows perfectly well that with their present reach of 
root they have already all the truth that they have 
any capacity for. They seem never to have an am- 
bition to be saved with an immense salvation. I 
heard one of these rocky-ground Christians saying 
awhile ago, " If I can get into heaven, that is all I 
want." The higher ranges of Christian living and 
doing they seem to stand out of all appreciation of. 
Their roots are pressing against a rock — and so their 
stalk is meagre, their foliage is wilted, and their fruit 
wizened. 

The second class we have found to be more in 
earnest than the first, and now the third class is made 
up of those who have received the truth, and who react 
upon it with at least a deeper seriousness than our 
rocky-ground Christians. The impediment here is 
of a different nature. The soil is sufficiently friable 
and abundantly deep, but its juices and energies are 
distributed between growths of two different sorts — 
attempting to grow wheat and thorns at the same 
time, our God-Mammon hearers. 

The same energy of soil that will go to form wheat, 
will also compose tares, or minister to thorn-bushes. 
The same personal energies that make a man success- 
ful in righteousness make him likewise successful in 
wickedness. A good man is a bad man turned about 
and going the other way. The same wind that drives 
one vessel straight into port will dash another vessel 



1 66 PARABLE OF THE SOWER. 



on the rocks. The same water that runs the mill 
may drown the miller. The same energies that made 
Saul a terrible persecutor made Paul a magnificent 
apostle. It is a question not of new energy, but of 
the direction that is going to be taken by the old 
energy. The difficulty with the soil of the third sort 
is not after all with the soil, but in the fact that a 
part of its fertility gets diverted from the wheat-seed, 
and goes to form thorn-bushes. No man has such a 
fund of personal energy that he can be more than 
one thing successfully. " Ye can not serve God and 
Mammon." 

Now this does not involve the exclusion from life 
of all cares or all pleasures. There is no necessary 
incompatibility between Christianity and a good time, 
and no necessary incompatibility between Christianity 
and a busy time. But the reference in the parable 
may furnish us a valuable hint as to the proper way 
of settling some doubtful questions of Christian duty 
and consistency. The husbandman objects to the 
presence and growth of nothing in his wheat-field that 
is not going to draw on those energies of the soil 
that are necessary to the completest development of 
his wheat ; so we need discourage no engagements 
or diversions in our life that are not going to inter- 
fere with the best development of our Christian char- 
acter, or the best exercise of our Christian activities. 

When, for example, I confront the question whether 



PARABLE OF THE SO WER. 



167 



I shall indulge myself in some specific amusement 
(of what particular kind is an indifferent matter), the 
point I have to settle with myself is not whether I 
see any particular harm in it, nor whether this or that 
estimable person allows himself that indulgence. The 
prime question is whether allowing myself the indul- 
gence in any manner unfits me to be a Christian in 
my thoughts, deeds, and devotions ; whether when I 
come back from my indulgence I return with an eye 
just as quick to detect the divine presence, and a 
heart that just as promptly and sensitively feels the 
helpful strength of God issuing from the pages of 
His Word ; whether the diversion helps to open or 
tends a little to close the closet of prayer, and whether 
it tends to fill or to clip the wings of my devotion. 
Such questions are always three-quarters solved the 
instant we have no wish but to have them rightly 
solved. 

Of course the question of influence over others 
must not be discarded. But that aside for the mo- 
ment, to any young Christian anxious for nothing so 
much as to be wholly a Christian, and act wholly the 
part of a Christian, I would say by way of counsel, 
do anything you please that will not dry the fresh 
dew from your Bible, or still the gracious whispers of 
God in your closet. Everything else give a wide 
berth to. 

And now we have already said by implication all 



1 68 



PARABLE OF THE SO WER. 



that need be said of the fourth class of hearers, the 
hearers with the "good and honest heart." This sort 
of auditor approaches the truth of God prepared to 
become whatever that truth will make of him. He 
comes to the truth-laden table hungry, inwardly hun- 
gry, and wishing, and expecting to find there the 
meat in whose strength he shall go for many days. 
Unlike the pathway hearer, he comes into instant 
association with the best and truest thing that is 
spoken. Both rhetoric and logic are to him only 
channels for the conveyance of what is to him of 
finer worth, just as there is no petal in the rose- 
bloom so beautiful and delicate that the honey-bee 
will hesitate to stand and trample upon it in his 
efforts to get at the saccharine drop which he wants 
more. 

Coming in this mood and temper of spirit, he is 
not repulsed and made uneasy by the presentation 
of truth that fastens firmly upon the defects or ex- 
crescences of his own Christian life. That is the only 
thing that the truth is for. There is no way in 
which a hearer makes it so evident that he is not an 
honest hearer as by taking exception to those pres- 
entations of truth that come most snugly home to 
his own infirmities and blemishes of character ; pro- 
vided, of course, that the speaker be preaching to his 
whole people and not at a part of them, and that it 
be done in all graciousness and sincerity of heart. 



PARABLE OF THE SOWER. i6g 

And, then, this very hunger of soul which is the char- 
acteristic of the good and honest hearer will operate 
to make him just a little selfish in his hearing, more 
apt to realize that the truth which is spoken is rele- 
vant to himself than to think about its relevancy to 
other people. Supposing, for example, your pastor 
were to preach a discourse on the peculiar perils of 
rich men, and the small likelihood of a rich man's 
being saved. Now, unless the grace of God should 
in rather an exceptional manner intervene, this con- 
gregation would instantly single out a few of its more 
wealthy members, and with a self-forgetfulness which 
under other circumstances might be admirable would 
yield to that wealthy few, as regards the bearings of 
that discourse, full and unquestioning monopoly. 
Now just here we can learn a lesson from the incident 
recorded in the tenth of Mark. Christ had just been 
preaching a sermon on rich men and the small like- 
lihood of their being saved. The disciples had little 
property, but instead of limiting their Lord's dis- 
course to the one rich man who had just gone away 
grieved, they instantly said, "Why, who then can be 
saved ? " realizing with singular discernment that a 
poor man may love his little property just as fatally 
as a millionaire his great property, and that a silver 
dime held close enough to the eye will shade the sun 
as readily as a gold eagle. Now, that was the very 
acme of " good and honest " hearing, which ignored 
8 



iyo PARABLE OF THE SOWER. 

the particular form under which the truth happened 
to be presented, and submitted itself candidly to the 
pressure of truth's gist. 

The Lord make His preachers anxious only to 
preach His truth, and make us all solicitous for noth- 
ing so much as to become everything that His truth 
is fitted to make of us. 



XII. 

CHRISTIAN APPRECIATION OF LITTLE 
THINGS. 

" For who hath despised the day of small things ? " 
— Zechariah iv. 10. 

THE prophecy from which these words of our text 
are taken was pronounced by Zechariah in order to 
the encouragement of Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel was 
Prince of Judah during the days of the Captivity, 
and, when orders were issued by King Cyrus, of 
Persia, looking to the rebuilding of the temple at Je- 
rusalem, it was this Zerubbabel that put himself at 
the head of such of his fellow-captives as God had 
raised, to go up to build the house of the Lord, and 
that took the initiative in gathering materials and 
collecting masons and carpenters for the great work 
in hand. 

The foundations of the new temple were success- 
fully laid, and the occasion celebrated with much of 
pomp and holy ceremony. Although the work had 
been thus auspiciously begun, it was soon inter- 
rupted, and the Prince and his countrymen sub- 

(171) 



1 72 APPRECIATION OF LITTLE THINGS. 

jected to all kinds of vexatious delays and interfer- 
ences. The consequence of all this was that they 
lost heart. The end of their enterprise seemed a 
great ways removed ; the new future of their people, 
to which they had looked forward with exulting con- 
fidence, appeared now to be pushed far out into the 
years, and the small beginning that had been already 
made, to be to them more a reminder of present ex- 
tremity than a promise of future aggrandizement and 
heavenly succor. 

It was exactly at this time that the prophet Zech- 
ariah is sent to Zerubbabel charged with words of 
heavenly comfort and inspiriting. It was the recur- 
rence of what had so often transpired in Jewish his- 
tory, and in all history, in fact, that " when the tale 
of bricks is doubled, Moses comes." Precisely at this 
juncture, then, when events hung in suspense, bal- 
anced upon a pivot of uncertainty, the prophet ap- 
peared to Zerubbabel and cast into the balance that 
contained the destiny of Judah, words of cheer from 
the Lord, and turned the scale in favor of a better 
and gladder future. And the prophet spoke to Zer- 
ubbabel, saying : " The hands of Zerubbabel have 
laid the foundation of this house : his hands shall 
also finish it ; and thou shalt know that the Lord of 
hosts hath sent me unto you. For who hath despised 
the day of small things? " 

In this way Zerubbabel was taught of the Lord to 



APPRECIATION OF LITTLE THINGS. 173 

hold in due esteem even the imperfect commence- 
ment already made, and to regard with a degree of 
assurance and satisfaction the feeble results his hands 
had already wrought. And this is but one of the un- 
counted instances, both in Scripture and in nature, 
of the affectionate interest with which God regards 
little things, and so affords it to us as the topic of our 
morning's meditation, — Christian living in its relation 
to little things. 

And it will be worth a great deal to us just here if 
we will at the outset accustom ourselves to thinking 
of God as One whose thought and interest run out 
into little things easily and rest on little things af- 
fectionately. We shall gain from just this a warrant 
for letting our own minds hold the small concerns of 
life in more earnest esteem, and for letting our own 
hands seize the little employments and minor duties 
of life with a more appreciative and resolute regard. 

And indeed it is not quite easy and natural for us 
to think of God as putting all the skill of His 
thought and interest of His heart in the small mat- 
ters of His Providence and His workmanship. And 
you can readily settle this point for yourselves by re- 
flecting how much more native to us it is to conceive 
of God as enthroned in the heavens, with the stars 
blazing as jewels in the coronet of His glory, than to 
think of Him as tabernacled in a dew-drop, palaced in 
a sunbeam, and His excellent beauty traced in the 



174 APPRECIATION OF LITTLE THINGS. 

crystal strokes of a snow-flake. In all our attempts 
to figure and localize Him we resort instantly and 
spontaneously to words that represent immensity of 
height and breadth and circuit. It is not the drop, 
but the ocean — not the pebble, but the mountain 
that seems to us redolent of divine suggestion and 
freighted with divine presence. 

" The strength of the hills is His also." Even in- 
spired thought, you perceive, felt a holy nearness in 
the great things of nature that it did not as readily 
feel in the lesser ones. Almost all of David's image- 
ry is a quotation from the sky rather than from the 
ground. With him it is the heavens that declare the 
glory of God, and the firmament that showeth His 
handiwork. His thought regularly seeks after the 
immense and the magnificent in nature, as instrument 
for symbolizing the divine mind and power. We 
shall find some change in this respect as we turn over 
the leaf into the midst of the Gospel characterizations 
of God. But back in the old Bible it is the most stir- 
ring crises of history and the most startling features 
of nature that seem to the writers to yield the fittest 
expression of God's Providence and inworking. In 
the like spirit was composed Solomon's prayer at the 
dedication of the temple, when he prayed : " But will 
God in very deed dwell with men on the earth ? Be- 
hold heaven, and the heaven of heavens can not contain 
Thee ; how much less this house which I have built ? " 



APPRECIATION OF LITTLE THINGS. 175 

So all our church and cathedral architecture is a 
struggle with this same idea that Solomon had of the 
spatial immensity of God, and climbs along the lines 
of vast proportion and huge dimension, if perhaps 
it may become capacious enough to contain God. 
All those huge piles of solemn masonry that lie out 
crumbling amid the silence and desolation of the 
Euphrates and the Nile, or that spire up in chasten- 
ed splendor among the refined cities and worshipping 
populations of Europe and America, are the endeavor 
in stone to approach to the being of God along the 
lines of numerical dimension. 

It is this same tendency of thought that prompts 
us to see God in the flashing of the lightning and 
hear Him in the pealing of the thunder, but that 
makes us deaf to Him in the pattering of the rain, 
the sighing of the wind, and the twittering of the 
sparrow, and blind to Him in the gentle splendor 
that looks up into our eye from out the daisy, or that 
scatters down before us from off the tremulous wing 
of the humming-bird and the butterfly. And it was 
that deeper discernment of the wild prophet out of 
Gilead that charges with considerable of its interest 
the strange mountain-scene upon Horeb, when it was 
not in the wind with which the Lord caused the rocks 
to be rent that Elijah discerned the presence of the 
Lord, nor in the earthquake with which He caused 
the mountain to be shaken, nor in the fire with which 



j;6 APPRECIATION OF LITTLE THINGS. 



He caused it to be inflamed ; but in the still, small 
voice, down into which the tones of God's utterance 
dropped when the louder and more startling demon- 
strations of His power were by. And happy is the 
man and the prophet everywhere that has the ear to 
detect the divineness that lodges in the little quiet 
voices of God's works and providences. 

And indeed if you have examined with a micro- 
scope, or with an eye microscopically adjusted, any 
of the lesser or least of the creatures of God's work- 
manship, you have discovered that as far into the 
minute intricacies of things as your eye can reach, 
creative thought working deftly and with exquisite- 
ness of refinement has gone on before you. Looking 
up into the astronomic firmament you can not dis- 
cover the frontier star, nor overtake the march of 
God's thought in its magnificent sweep outward ; 
nor, looking down into the microscopic firmament, 
can you any more detect the sentinel that guards the 
inner line of exquisite finish and beauty, nor overtake 
the tread of God's thought in its stealthy procession 
inward. You know always that there is another 
world of magnificent splendor lying still outside the 
utmost discernible star, and you know also that there 
is another world of exquisite splendor lying still in- 
side the last discernible grace of the mote or the 
atom ; and, as has been exquisitely said by another : 
" The last discernible particle dies out of our sight 



APPRECIA TION OF LITTLE THINGS. 



1/7 



with the same divine glory on it, as on the last orb 
that glimmers in the skirt of the universe." 

And this is one way in which with endless variety 
of discourse God everywhere and always preaches to 
men of His infinite interest in, and infinite affection 
for, the little things that are the units of value in 
the consummated wealth of nature. This is just 
hinted at in the fortieth of Isaiah, where the prophet 
says of God, " He hath comprehended the dust of 
the earth in a measure "; and, in the thirty-sixth of 
Job, " He maketh small the drops of water." 

But it is only when we pass along into the New 

Testament that we get the best assurances of God's 

distributed regard, and of His detailed interest and 

affection. You know it is the very genius of the Gospel 

to try and convince men of God's fatherly concern 

for us. But fatherly concern always particularizes 

and individualizes ; and so in the Gospel there is not 

much about the sky, but a great deal about the ground ; 

not much about masses of men, but about individual 

men. The great bundle of light that in the Old Bible 

is seen streaming down upon men and things in the 

mass, is in the New Bible all unbound and cloven into 

minute pencils of light that touch down, each of them, 

upon its own specific object and person. "Are not 

two sparrows sold for a farthing, and one of them 

shall not fall on the ground without your Father ? " 

We hear nothing more about the heavens and the 
8* 



i;8 APPRECIATION OF LITTLE THINGS. 

firmament, but God feeds the bird, paints the lily, 
clothes the grass. " Even the very hairs of your 
head are all numbered." It characterizes His para- 
bles, — the shepherd seeking after the one sheep ; the 
woman searching for the one lost piece of silver ; the 
little leaven working in the midst of the meal ; the 
joy in heaven over the one sinner that repenteth ; 
the benediction pronounced upon the little faith that 
is no larger than a mustard grain ; the blessing spoken 
over the five loaves and two fishes, and the careful 
saving of the fragments that remained : " Take heed 
that ye despise not one of these little ones "; and 
then He goes on to show how each of those little ones 
has its own guardian angel beholding ever the face 
of its heavenly Father. 

If you will study the history of Christ's ministry 
from Baptism to Ascension, you will discover that it 
is mostly made up of little words, little deeds, little 
prayers, little sympathies, adding themselves together 
in unwearied succession. The Gospel is full of divine 
attempts to help and heal, in body, mind, and heart, 
individual men. The completed beauty of Christ's 
life is only the added beauty of little inconspicuous 
acts of beauty — talking with the woman at the well ; 
going far up into the North country to talk with the 
Syrophenician woman ; showing the young ruler the 
stealthy ambition laid away in his heart that kept 
him out of the kingdom of heaven ; shedding a tear 



APPRECIATION OF LITTLE THINGS. iyg 

at the grave of Lazarus ; teaching a little knot of fol- 
lowers how to pray ; preaching the Gospel one Sunday 
afternoon to two disciples going out to Emmaus ; 
kindling a fire and broiling fish that His disciples 
might have a breakfast waiting for them when they 
came ashore from a night of fishing, cold, tired, and 
discouraged. All of these things, you see, let us in 
so easily into the real quality and tone of God's in- 
terests, so specific, so narrowed down, so enlisted in 
what is small, so engrossed with what is minute. 

And now that we have come through these two 
convergent avenues of Nature and Gospel into an 
appreciation of the detailed way in which God's 
thoughts and affections work, I am sure we shall 
turn back with a little different and juster regard to 
the small things that add themselves together to 
compose the tissue of our Christian living, joying, 
and working. 

And in the first place, I think that one reason why 
we have no more continuous and solid comfort in our 
Christian life is, that we are looking and feeling after 
great joys, and neglecting and failing to economize 
the multitude of little blessings that are within reach, 
and that, if husbanded and cultivated, would go, in 
most cases, to compose a life quite substantially de- 
lightful and quite solidly comfortable. One great 
tree, even though loaded down with an exuberance 
of foliage, standing in the midst of a field otherwise 



l8o APPRECIATION OF LITTLE THINGS. 

barren, will not begin, in point of beauty, to take the 
place of a harvest of minuter verdure distributed 
throughout the entire plot. It is the unbroken co- 
herency of humble and inconspicuous greenness that 
gives to the field and the pasture its inimitable solid- 
ity of elegance. It is drop melting into drop, each 
with its own little play of color in it, that goes to 
compose a belt of splendor broad and sweeping 
enough to be called God's bow of promise. It is 
drop melting into drop, each with its own little tidal 
play, that goes to compose the ocean-swell, strong 
enough to rock a navy, and send pulsations of health 
up every river and against every shore. 

I do not know as it is well to pray for great joys. 
There is something disturbing and unsettling in them. 
It is a great deal better, I am sure, to pray that we 
may have our hearts let into an appreciation of our 
every-day joys, and into an appreciation of the good- 
ness of God that in these every-day joys comes to a 
very quiet but very steady expression. We want a 
Christian genius for infusing sublimity into trifles, 
and for coming into communication with God, as 
Elijah did, at the level of His still utterances and com- 
monplace conferments. 

Some one has said, " It is better that joy should 
be spread over all the day, in the form of strength, 
than that it should be concentrated into ecstasies, 
full of danger and followed by reactions." We should 



APPRECIA TION OF LITTLE THINGS. 1 8 1 



be surprised, some of us, to find how rich we are, if 
we should go to work and make an inventory of our 
little comforts and mercies, and contemplate the foot- 
ings that denote the sum total of each day's incon- 
spicuous benefits. If we were to do that, the prayers 
of some of us would be longer than they are now, 
and be composed in good part, too, of gratitude to 
God for His wonderful and manifold goodness to us. 

And not only should we be more joyous and more 
thankful if we so opened out our hearts as to let 
them feel the incessant droppings of heavenly mercy, 
our lives would be made more fruitful by the means. 
When the ground has become dried, and burnt, and 
baked, then the rain can fall upon it without being 
allowed to soak into the ground saturatingly, and to 
play around the roots, and be drawn up into them, 
to become new life in the tree, new freshness in the 
leaf, and new impulse at the bud. So this constant 
dropping of God's little goodnesses seems designed 
not so much for their own sakes, but like the con- 
stant dropping of the rain, that they may be to us a 
kind of heavenly fertility, soaking in at the soul's 
pores, and sinking down around the roots of our 
manly Christian purposes, nourishing those purposes, 
becoming absorbed into them, and so quickening 
them, and building them up, and pushing them on to 
fructification. 

And then, again, if we gave somewhat more respect 



1 82 APPRECIATION OF LITTLE THINGS. 



to the small occurrences and little occasions of every- 
day life, we might be surprised to discover what 
capacity even the most commonplace living has for 
affording us discipline. Life is generally conceded to 
be disciplinary. Its aim is to take the fine impulses 
that God in Christ implants in us, and then to school 
those impulses till they have been wrought into im- 
manent purposes and settled habits. And because 
we have not had friends, or property, or health taken 
from us, or our lives torn and mangled by any kind 
of distress, we are not obliged to think that God has 
forgotten our need of discipline, or failed to put us 
within reach of the influences and irritants adequate 
to the working within us of all needed chastening. 

And there is hardly a day passes with us, probably, 
in which discipline in some one of its inconspicuous 
forms does not get declined by us, and in which we 
do not evade the pressure of some little annoyance, 
or vexation, or other urgency, which God has pressed 
against us, and so fail of a blessing, because declining 
to hold ourselves patiently against the attrition 
divinely contrived to produce us into new grace of 
spiritual contour, and new wealth of spiritual lustre. 
We are like the marble full of the possibilities of 
beauty, or like the unpolished diamond charged with 
the possibilities of brilliancy, and yet needing the 
chisel or the lapidary's wheel to pare and rub away 
our ungrace. And just such cloud-flecks as every sun- 



APPRECIATION OF LITTLE THINGS. 183 



niest day brings with it, and just such little aggrava- 
tions, thorn-twinges, and tensions, as no most con- 
genial hour is quite free from, are the chisels and pol- 
ishing-wheels beneficently pressed against us, and 
whose good work we can by no means afford not to 
have wrought upon us. 

A good angel really hides in every provocation 
and petty exasperation ; and if we fail to detect it, it 
only shows the more how much we need the angel. 
Every irritation encountered on the street, in the 
office, or at the home, is God's way of rapping at 
some deformity of ours that needs to loosen and fall 
off from us ; it is His way of holding attention to 
some infirmity of purpose or of character, where more 
of moral exercise needs to be had, and more of divine 
grace needs to be supplied. 

There are respects even in which these little tests 
that are given to our temper, to our faith, to our af- 
fection, to our consecration, are more efficacious than 
the larger and more imposing ones. They are more 
tell-tale. They take us when we are off our guard, 
and so, with more accuracy than great afflictions, be- 
tray the real quality of the man. A man that could 
easily stand at the stake without a tremor might not 
be able to submit to the prick of a thorn without 
flinching. There is something in great occasions that 
nerves us to powers of endurance not properly our 
own. 



1 84 APPRECIATION OF IITTLE THINGS. 

Something of this kind was probably intended by 
the wise man in his proverb, " He that ruleth his own 
spirit is better than he that taketh a city." Great 
enduring power, staying power, was required in the 
capture of a town or fortress, particularly in the old 
methods of warfare. But in so great an enterprise 
there was, of course, considerable of exhilaration. 
The occasion itself was full of intensity and inspirit- 
ing that made fortitude easy and endurance a pas- 
time. But the occasions that necessitate our draw- 
ing a tight rein on our spirits leap forth unheralded 
from each most inconspicuous niche of our experi- 
ence. They do not come so often when we are at 
our best, and strained by some exhilaration of large 
occasion or high achievement, but they take us at 
our average. And so it is exactly these petty stresses 
of character and the ignominious irritations — that are 
without power to rouse us to constrained heroism — 
that really we need to give most conscientious heed 
to and yield most punctilious respect to, for it is these 
exactly that can best tell us the thing about ourselves 
that we most need to know, and that touch us at the 
point of our most exceeding need. 

And now I have left me only a moment in which 
to present one other aspect of this doctrine of little 
things. The emphasis which we have seen that 
Christ's life lay on simple, unstrained continuance in 
well-doing, ought to induce in us great respect for lit- 



APPRECIATION OF LITTLE THINGS. 185 

tie opportunities of service. If you will think of it, 
it is not so much great doing as it is a holy and un- 
tiring persistency in common doing, that Christ, by 
His own life and that of His apostles, commends to 
our admiration and imitation — lives made up of little 
fidelities. 

Since the beginning of the year two men* have 
passed up from this church into the fellowship of the 
saints above, whose lives were intimately interwoven 
with almost all the great original charities of the city. 
And those lives present themselves to us, who survive, 
as lives full of grand stimulus and splendidly worthy of 
all Christian imitation. And yet I have never learned 
that either of these noblemen of God ever did any 
single thing that could be technically named as a 
great thing. They lived great lives, and yet the 
greatness of their lives was only the summing up of 
the little deeds of fidelity and beneficence that went 
on adding themselves together and piling themselves 
up through all the days of the year and all the years 
of a long life. 

And it is exactly this kind of greatness that Christ's 
followers as a rule are called to. There are not many 
great men, in the technical sense of the word ; not 
many geniuses, unless perhaps genius reduces in the 
last analysis to just this unintermittent doing of the 
next little thing that demands to be done. But even 

* Apollos R. Wetmore and Robert M. Hartley. 



1 86 APPRECIATION OF LITLLE THINGS. 



if it means something other and more than this, the 
genius needed by a Christian is a genius for small and 
consecutive fidelities. Perhaps it is the most difficult 
of all genius to be possessed of, as it is certainly the 
most advantageous of all genius to have exercised. 

And there is a great deal that renders difficult this 
patient continuance in doing little Christian duties 
and rendering inconspicuous Christian services without 
fits and starts and with no recess or vacation. There is 
nothing specially exhilarating about doing a little thing 
with no prospect before us but to do another little thing 
similar to it when that first little one is finished. We 
are helped always by great occasions. But along our 
lowly lines of continuous small doing we do not en- 
counter many great occasions. We do not get 
nerved and fired ; circumstances do not work in us 
with strong inspiriting. Perhaps we are teaching a 
class in the Sunday-school, perhaps we are helping a 
poor family, perhaps we are ministering to a sick 
friend, perhaps we are trying to preach the Gospel of 
Christ over and over in a commonplace way ; but in 
it all we only go on adding little service to little serv- 
ice, forgetting, or perhaps even without the power to 
appreciate what continuance in well-doing really 
means, either in its cumulative results or in the 
thoughts and estimate of God ; like the ocean 
steamer out of sight of land that goes on under the 
sunlight and in the darkness, creeping steadily through 



APPRECIATION OF LITTLE THINGS. 187 

the waves, adding league to league, unconscious of the 
receding shore and the approaching haven. We are 
in it all so like Naaman ; " My father, if the prophet 
had bid thee do some great thing, wouldst thou not 
have done it ? " 

And so I know not how better we can do than 
bring to our encouragement and re-enforcement the 
incentives of Christ's example and words, who ever 
recommended to His followers to speak the little 
word that came next to be spoken, to render the lit- 
tle service that came nearest their hand, and carry 
the little burden that lay immediately at their feet ; 
the alabaster-cruse of ointment poured upon the 
Lord's head, the cup of cold water offered to the 
thirsty disciple, the tear shed in sympathy, the mite 
dropped into the treasury. Each little moment 
comes freighted with its little Christian obligation 
and little Christian opportunity. A life grandly 
holy is only the adding together of minutes scrupu- 
lously holy. " He that is . faithful in that which is 
least, is faithful also in much and then when the 
suitable time comes, it will be said to us : " Well 
done, thou good and faithful servant ; thou hast 
been faithful over a few things ; I will make thee 
ruler over many things." 



XIII. 



MAN'S UNCONSCIOUS IMMORTALITY. 

"He must increase, but I must decrease." — 
John iii. 30. 

THESE are a few of the words of John the Baptist. 
He is trying to make clear to his own disciples the 
preparatory relation which his work sustained to 
Christ's work. John came before Christ, to open the 
door for Christ, and to introduce Christ to the world. 
When you introduce to one another those who have 
been mutually strangers, as soon as the act of intro- 
duction is accomplished, you become at once unneces- 
sary — in the way, in fact. John has opened the door ; 
has put Christ and the people of Palestine more or 
less at their ease with one another, and he feels 
already that his occupation is gone, that he is not 
needed any more. There are very few of God's 
workmen who know as well as John did what their 
mission is, or when their commission expires. " He 
must increase, but I must decrease." 

John died a little after. I suppose we always ex- 
pire on the day when our commission is dated to 
(188) 



MAN'S UNCONSCIOUS IMMORTALITY. 189 

expire. There are two pleasant reflections that the 
laborers of God may derive from that supposition, 
and one is, that He keeps us here as long as we are of 
use ; and the other is, that He does not detain us after 
we have ceased to be of use. That ought to be a 
great stimulus to those who are in vigor, and a sweet 
consolation to those who through age, or feebleness, 
or other limitation seem to themselves to be of no 
further account. 

It appears sometimes as though we should do bet- 
ter work if, like John, we could see clearly just what 
and how much it is we are doing ; if we could see 
distinctly outlined the place we are to fill, and defi- 
nitely stated the amount of the contribution that we 
personally are to make to the weal of man and of our 
generation. And yet perhaps it is so little that any 
of us do really, that to know would hardly be as 
stimulating as not to know. And it is supposable 
that it was with an inflection of regret and disap- 
pointment that John uttered the words of our text 
and declared that his own little day was waning 
toward its nightfall. 

" I must decrease." It has been conjectured that 
John in saying this had a presentiment of his mar- 
tyrdom so soon to be accomplished across the river 
in the fortress of Machaerus. That is indeed possible. 
And yet certainly it is not so fine an accomplishment 
to be able to foresee what is going to happen, as to 



igo MAN'S UNCONSCIOUS IMMORTALITY. 

be able to feel what in the very nature of things 
must happen. Insight is better than foresight. It 
would not be so great an achievement, for instance, 
to have transiently loaned to us the miraculous power 
to see that on a certain day and hour the sun is to be 
eclipsed, as it would be to be so versed in the cosmic 
laws which determine the positions of the heavenly 
bodies, as to know that on that certain day and hour 
the sun must be eclipsed. Insight is vastly more than 
foresight, and indeed contains foresight. 

And it is far more probable to suppose that the Bap- 
tist foretold his own decline, and disappearance from the 
stage of event, not because he foresaw the headsman's 
axe, but because he so fully appreciated the laws of 
event as to feel that the generation must soon have 
no further need of him ; in something the same way 
as that in which Christ, quite likely, anticipated His 
own crucifixion and foretold it, not because He fore- 
saw Calvary and the three crosses and Himself sus- 
pended in the midst, but because He so well under- 
stood men, and the trend of event, and the under- 
lying laws of event, as to know and feel that He and 
that generation could only for a little time get along 
together. All divine foresight certainly is insight. 
And it is just this insight which John had into event 
and into his relation to event that has prompted my 
selection of this passage for purposes of our morn- 
ing study. 



MAN'S UNCONSCIO US IMMOR TALIT Y. j 9 1 

In the first place, John realized that he signified 
nothing individually as compared with the generation 
he was set in the midst of, and the race whose destiny 
he was commissioned to serve. He would cease to 
be of account when he ceased to be of use. His 
worth was his utility. History is for the sake of man, 
not for the sake of men. History makes little ac- 
count of individuals. " I must decrease." The re- 
demptive scheme shelved the Baptist as soon as the 
Baptist had done his part in promoting the redemp- 
tive scheme. 

It is not characteristic of history to be grateful. 
The years speed past us, and we put a little some- 
thing into the years, perhaps, as they move, but the 
years do not take us up and carry us ; we always get 
left. We are instruments, and the work hardly thanks 
the instrument, and as soon as the instrument has 
done its work it is hung up or thrown away. "He 
must increase, but I must decrease." A man soon 
becomes obsolete. We value the gifts that the past 
has bequeathed to us, but we care exceedingly little 
about the givers. And the next generation will treat 
this generation just as this one is now treating the 
foregoing. There is very little to hope for in the 
shape of future appreciation. It is law that the in- 
dividual should denote less and less, " decrease." 

The men whose praises were everywhere fifty years 
ago are hardly named to-day. Fifty years hence we 



1 92 MAN'S UNCONSCIOUS IMMORTALITY. 

shall almost every one of us be asleep ; and how many 
of our names then will ever be spoken or written ? 
It will not be because there are not many here, even 
in this congregation, that are an enrichment to the 
world, starting lines of influence that will go on prop- 
agating benefits to the end of time; and men will 
walk in the joy and strength of those benefits, but 
they will know nothing of you, and if possible will 
care less. 

You will erect monuments to perpetuate your 
memory. Perhaps you are a man whose name is 
familiar to half the population of this city, made 
familiar, too, by your nobility of character and life and 
act. Fifty years hence, in the year 1932, people who 
live in the street or avenue where your residence now 
is, will go past your monument, decipher the sculpt- 
ured lines which years will have softened and moss 
inlaid, and wonder who he was whose name the 
granite has tried so hard to keep fresh and conspicu- 
ous ; and yet this city may at that time be in essen- 
tial respects a different town from what it would have 
been had you not lived in it, spoken heroic words 
and acted a manly part in it. But about you and me 
personally the next century will care nothing and 
probably know nothing. I do not know who it is 
that has written, 

" Not myself, but the truth that in life I have spoken, 
Not myself, but the seed that in life I have sown, 



MAN'S UNCONSCIOUS IMMORTALITY. ig$ 

Shall pass on to ages, — all about me forgotten, 

Save the truth I have spoken, the deeds I have done." 

And now, my hearer, in your mind and mine it is 
liable to be just a tilt between these two ideas, the 
idea on the one hand of wanting to ride, ourselves, 
in conspicuous stateliness in the chariot of event, and 
the idea on the other hand of aspiring to be only the 
track along which the wheel of the chariot rolls. 
One is wanting to be the statue elevated into con- 
spicuity by the underlying pedestal ; the other is 
seeking to be the pedestal desirous only of helping 
into conspicuity the super-imposed statue. 

Two or three illustrations will help put these two 
antagonizing ideas in greater distinctness. Supposing 
you are a man of large intellectual endowment and 
mental calibre, and your name is Smith. Now such 
genius is in its very nature an illumination. It will 
illuminate something ; and it depends upon you what 
that something shall be. You can so shade that light 
in, and so focus it upon yourself, that it will become the 
means of your own transfigurement, and set the feat- 
ures of your own personality before the gaze of ad- 
mirers in lines of fire, so that when you do anything 
or say anything the world shall lift up hands of ap- 
plause and shout " Smith ! " or you can hide in the 
eclipse of your own splendid talent ; like the forth- 
coming statue of Liberty in New York harbor, you 
can lift high above you the censer of flame, and while 
9 



I 9 4 MAN'S UNCONSCIOUS IMMORTALITY. 

you stand in twilight, and in the colossal repose of 
an humble spirit, waters and lands and cities, with 
hardly a thought of you, shall lie out, and shall walk, 
in the lustre that radiates from your high uplifted 
torch. 

Supposing you are a man of large wealth. Wealth 
is power, royalty. Now, my wealthy hearer, it is for 
you to decide whether your wealth is to work the 
coronation of you, or wmether you are going to work 
the coronation of your wealth. You can make a 
movable throne out of your gold, and as it passes to 
and fro, men's eyes will be dazzled by the yellow 
glitter of it, and by the flash of the diamonds that 
glisten in your coronet ; and your possessions and 
your stocks will range themselves about you a circle 
of flaming lights, focused all uponjw^, setting you in 
an apocalypse of brightness ; and men will see the 
gold shining in your face. That is one thing you can 
do ; and when men look at you, the light that comes 
back into their eyes is a yellow light, and when they 
shake hands with you, the grasp that answers back 
to theirs is a metallic grasp. 

This is no draught on the imagination. You could 
count up scores of men that become so identified 
with their possessions that they come to mean hardly 
anything but possession — a sort of amalgam of man 
and money, wealth come to its impersonation, a kind 
of mint on foot. That, I say, is one thing you can 



MAN'S UNCONSCIOUS IMMORTALITY. 195 

do and be. The other thing would be to let your 
soul inspirit your possessions, instead of letting your 
possessions metallize your soul ; to step over from the 
blaze of your possessions, and live in their shadow, 
not to stand yourself at the focus of the splendor, 
but to be the bearer of the uplifted censer in which 
the incense is inflamed ; carrying yourself and your 
splendid power something as the sun carries itself, 
which lies back in the sky in quiet distance, but con- 
tinuously sends to the ground, and into the air, and 
into the hearts of men silent and stealthy messages 
of beauty and warmth along the nimble telegraphy 
of the sunbeams, baptizing us with hourly munifi- 
cence, but leaving us almost unsuspicious of the in- 
audible fountain out from which this incessant sac- 
rament of benefit flows. 

Now, clearly enough that is the intent of history. 
The individual is only an incident, is only an accident 
of history. That is the principle around which Chris- 
tianity crystallizes. Sacrifice is the innermost kernel 
of Christianity. Christianity began in sacrifice. The 
deep idea of Christianity is to be nothing for the sake 
of the many — to be a little stone wrought, in some 
lowly place, in some invisible place, perhaps, into the 
structure of the wall, in order that the palace may be 
complete. You are for the world, my friend, and 
not the world for you. And if you, by your exquis- 
ite graces, or brilliant endowments, or princely afflu- 



196 MAN'S UNCONSCIOUS IMMORTALITY. 

ence, strive to win from your contemporaries a cor- 
onation, and to knot the generation in any manner 
around you, instead of knotting yourself to the gen- 
eration, and letting the best jewel in your treasures, 
and the best thought of your mind, and the best 
blood in your heart, flow to the weal, and mingle in 
the wealth of the era and the race, then you misun- 
derstand what you were made for ; you are out of 
step with the best spirit of the century ; you are 
brake on the wheel, instead of track under the wheel, 
or draught at the yoke ; you are bound to live, even 
if others have to suffer and to bleed, unparticipant in 
the genius of the Lord, who opened His own veins 
that others might be charged with the currents of a 
richer life ; you are bound to mount into comfort, 
power, and conspicuity at whatever level of debase- 
ment and discomfort thousands about you stand — un- 
participant in the genius of the Baptist, whose motto 
it was, "He must increase, but / must decrease." 

Again (and only a few sentences on this point), 
the Baptist appreciated that he was not a finality ; 
he was only a forerunner ; he was only erecting the 
platform upon which a coming laborer was to stand 
and render service that should be more complete and 
effective, because of what had been done before. Even 
the ministry of the Son of God was made a success 
through the preparatory work of the human John. 

That admits of two applications : I will mention 



MAN'S ITNCOASCIOUS IMMORTALITY. jgy 

them and leave it for you to develop them at your 
leisure. The first takes the shape of an encourage- 
ment. If a man has his heart thoroughly set to help 
make the world better, it is a trying reflection to 
him that he is liable at any time to be cut down in 
the midst of his years and usefulness, and to leave 
his work sharply interrupted. And now, my Chris- 
tian co-laborer, here comes in our comfort, that you 
and I are only somebody's forerunner ; we are only 
doing platform work upon which our successors are 
going to carry along to the finish, or toward the fin- 
ish, what we only begin. 

Now, if it is our own glory that we are thinking 
about, then what we begin we shall want to see our 
own hands complete, that the finished work may re- 
main as a kind of rounded memorial of our fidelity 
and skill. That is natural ; I would not wonder if 
John felt a little so ; I am quite sure that Moses felt 
somehow so, when he was compelled, before the host 
crossed the Jordan, to transfer to the hands of Joshua 
the captaincy of Israel. But just so far as we slip 
out of our own regards, and the universal weal slips 
in, this consideration reduces toward zero. 

We are for the Church, and not the Church for us ; 
we are for the sake of the extension of Christ's king- 
dom, and not the extension of the kingdom for our 
sake ; one man may sow, and another reap ; it is all 
part of one grand work. It is as much to sow as to 



1 98 MAN'S UNCONSCIOUS IMMORTALITY. 

reap ; and so let us sow, and sow, and reap if we may. 
Nothing stops ; the grand doctrine of the conserva- 
tion of force holds in spirituals as well as in materi- 
als. No true word is spoken, no holy deed done, 
that is not done forever. Every seed tells in the 
harvest. Every beginning is at its stage a comple- 
tion ; and everything completed is at its stage a 
beginning. The harvest is the end of one sowing, 
but it is the beginning of a new sowing. And so 
as other men have labored, and we are entered into 
their labors, let it not be so much our ambition to be 
able to count the sheaves as to multiply the stalks 
into which in due time, by us or by those after us, the 
sickle shall be thrust, rejoicing that we do not stand 
at the end of the years, and rejoicing that when the 
time comes for us to say, " I must decrease," we shall 
be able to say of some other who shall stand in your 
place and mine, " He must increase." 

The other application is admonitory, although at 
the same time one of encouragement. It is that as 
John was the forerunner of Christ, so in a close sense 
each Christian workman is Christ's forerunner. In 
whatever capacity we may be teaching and preaching 
Christianity, our work is, at its core, a teaching and 
preaching of Christ. We stand before Him ; we run 
before Him ; we point to Him. " Behold the Lamb 
of God," said John. " Behold the Lamb of God," 
say we. Christ can convert the unconverted ; we 



MAN'S UNCONSCIOUS IMMORTALITY. 199 

can not. Christ can baptize with the Holy Ghost ; 
we can not. Christ stands at the door of the impeni- 
tent heart ; we by word or example may help per- 
suade some impenitent to open the door to Him. 
But it is Christ that must go in to that heart and 
abide there, and work there. We, like John, can in- 
troduce Christ to sinners, and in that way prepare 
the way before Him. So although we come a good 
while after the Baptist, our work is still a good deal 
like that of the Baptist. And in this we, too, have a 
great deal to rejoice, that just when our work stops 
Christ's begins, and that just when we begin to 
" decrease" the Son of God is at the verge of His 
" increase." 

I mention only one other point of which John had 
evident appreciation, which is this, that the perfec- 
tion of his own work was shown just in this, that he 
could be so easily dispensed with, and that he could 
drop out of history with so little of disturbance to 
the steady progress of the redemptive work. Now, 
the measure of a great and good man's power is just 
the facility with which, when he is gone, the world 
can get along without him. 

This is copiously illustrated in Scripture. I sup- 
pose you have noticed that when the most impres- 
sive characters of Bible story decease there is given 
the least of jar to the historic equipoise. Moses ad- 
ministered the affairs of Israel for forty years with 



203 MAN'S UNCONSCIOUS IMMORTALITY. 



conspicuous ability and success, and yet at his death 
there was no slightest break in the continuity of their 
national life, and at no time in their career did they 
carry themselves with more dignity or with greater 
loyalty to God and fidelity to their own mission than 
in the forty years that followed his death. Similar 
things might be said of Samuel, Elijah, David, John, 
and, most strikingly of all, of our Lord himself. In- 
deed, for reasons not hard to seek, it might almost 
always be said of such what our Lord said of Himself 
to His disciples : " It is expedient for you that I go 
away." History rather ascends than descends along 
the stairway of great men's graves. 

And this is hardly an accident. It was a part of 
Moses' success not only that he marshaled the host, 
but that he duplicated and reduplicated his own 
spirit and purpose in such as came under the impress 
of his presence and power, and the greater the power 
the more numerous the reduplication and the deeper 
graved the lines of imprint. So that not only in a 
special way was Moses formed anew in the person of 
Joshua, but in a general way the whole host of Israel 
became the recipients of his mantle, and the children 
and heirs of his genius. So Elijah's mantle fell on 
Elisha, David's on Solomon. So Christ formed Him- 
self anew and multiplied Himself in His discipleship, 
and Christ's following grew far more rapidly after as- 
cension than before. 



MAN'S UNCONSCIOUS IMMORTALITY. 201 



Familiar instances of this occur in the concerns of 
common life. If a man builds up a great business, which 
all goes to pieces after his death, that he is shown to 
be indispensable to the business is far more suggestive 
of his weakness than it is demonstrative of his power. 
A part of the genius of a merchant as of a Moses is 
shown not only in his power to administer while he 
lives, but in his power so to repeat himself in others 
as to throw out strong administrative impulses over 
the years that come after his death. 

I have in mind one of our most brilliant and ag- 
gressive provincial journals. When a little while ago 
the editor-in-chief died, hardly a reader would have 
suspected the retirement of the editorial head and 
governing spirit ; so had he conformed his subordi- 
nates to his own likeness and moulded them along 
the lines of his own image, that the journal dropped 
into his successors' hands with no sacrifice of its char- 
acter and no abridgment of its prosperity. 

The power of a statesman, the power of a pastor, is 
in so re-begetting himself in others, that when he goes 
the Church suffers no jar and the State takes no det- 
riment. Most impressively illustrative of this is the 
dignity and sobriety with which this Government 
carried itself after the martyrdom of Lincoln and 
again after the martyrdom of Garfield. I believe the 
death of either of these did more to elevate than to 
depress the tone of. national sentiment, and more 



202 MAN'S UNCONSCIOUS IMMORTALITY. 



to strengthen than to relax the bands of the national 
life. The assassination, taken in connection with the 
character of the men assassinated, worked something 
like the crucifixion of Christ taken in connection with 
His being and character, in reduplicating and multi- 
plying them a thousand times over in the hearts of 
our true American citizenship. So that the grandeur 
of our two martyr-Presidents is shown most conspicu- 
ously just in the facility with which after they were 
gone the nation could get along without them. 

In the loss of a beloved parent — a strong father or 
a dear mother — you have had experience of the same. 
You are keenly sensible of their loss, but realize that 
in all that goes to compose the structure and the 
stamina of your life and character they are still per- 
petuated in you ; so that you are as composed and 
as strong and as balanced as when they were person- 
ally present with you. Your habits of good are only 
the tendencies which they planted and nurtured come 
to maturing. You are slipping along to-day in 
grooves of blessing and mercy which by prayerful 
effort and tuition they cut for you. You miss them, 
indeed ; but in all that relates to manliness of charac- 
ter and nobility of life and success in achievement, 
you are certainly as well without them as with them. 
And the reason you need them now so little is be- 
cause back in the by-gone years they filled your needs 
so well ; and the measure of their greatness and good- 



MAN'S UNCONSCIOUS IMMORTALITY. 203 

ness is just the facility with which, now that they are 
gone, you can get along without them. 

And perhaps there is no illustration of this princi- 
ple which will be so apt, and come so close to you 
collectively, as by reference to this church in its rela- 
tions to the reverend and sainted founder of this 
church. The ease, the quietness, the composure 
with which you survived the shock of your first pas- 
tor's decease, is to me one of the most impressive 
features of this church, as it is certainly the most elo- 
quent tribute to the mingled sweetness and grandeur 
of him who so long led this flock through pastures of 
living green. Just as the young man with streaming 
eyes turns away from the casket that is being closed 
upon the white face of his dear father, and then goes 
back into the world pure and strong and brave and 
true, because the heart that he inherited from his 
sire beats in his bosom ; so the solidity and the loy- 
alty and the consecration of this church is, in exceed- 
ing measure, but the soul of him who in Jesus Christ 
hath begotten you in the Gospel, divided, distributed, 
and multiplied over and over in the lives of those 
who rejoice always to name Dr. Adams their spirit- 
ual father; and the measure of his goodness and 
greatness is just the facility with which, now that he 
is gone, this church lives and works without him. 

Let us, then, brothers and sisters, adopt it as a 
high and sanctioned ambition in life to make our- 



204 MAN'S UNCONSCIOUS IMMORTALITY. 

selves unnecessary, to anticipate our departure hence 
by reduplicating in others such energies of holy pur- 
pose and such graces of heavenly tenderness, as by 
the renewing Spirit of God we may have had wrought 
within us, so that when our time of " decrease" is 
come and our single life is done, our multiplied 'life 
may survive ; and then, when the last tear shed for 
us has been dried, and the last memory of us has 
been erased by time, the energies that issued from 
us, at any rate, shall leap along the years, and our 
unconscious selves go scattering multiplying bless- 
ings along the broadening furrows of the generations. 



XIV. 



BLESSED ARE THE PURE IN HEART. 

" Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall SEE 
God"— Matthew v. 8. 

I HAVE purposely set the emphasis on the word 
see. A change in inflection, like a jar of the kaleido- 
scope, will sometimes work a transformation as sud- 
den as it is full of delicacy and surprise. We fall 
into rigid and frozen habits of reading the Bible. 
We put an emphasis at established points, as the 
clock always strikes when the pointer is at the top. 

Our inflection gets stereotyped, because our 
thought gets stereotyped. As the thoughts warm 
and become flexible, intonations and stress begin to 
vary, exactly as the river cuts for itself a new bed in 
the time of the spring rains. I love to hear a man 
read a passage from the Holy Word in a manner dif- 
ferent from my own. Without costing me my idea, 
it gains me his. If we could hear the Bible read as it 
ought to be, we could dispense with most of our com- 
mentaries. I have, for example, several commenta- 
ries on Romans ; but how willingly — yea, gladly — I 

(205) 



2o6 BLESSED ARE THE PURE IN HEART. 



would burn them all, if I could only once have St. 
Paul read me his letter to the Romans. 

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. 
This is one instance out of many of the success with 
which the Bible speaks a great truth without putting 
any unpleasant strain upon the words made use of in 
uttering that truth. In this particular the Bible 
stands by itself. Jesus Christ never wrestles with 
the truths He attempts to tell. Our words and 
phrases regularly bear the marks of a struggle. Our 
long sentences betray the distance there is between 
us and the thing we are attempting to tell. What 
we see clearly, we can say plainly. An elaborate 
paragraph is only a laboring mind articulating its dis- 
tress. This, I think, will put us upon laying greater 
emphasis upon the lucid brevities of our Scriptures, 
especially of our Gospels. And there are few finer 
examples of this than the Beatitudes, and this sixth 
Beatitude, " Blessed are the pure in heart, for they 
shall see God." 

One troublesome difficulty with which Bible 
speakers and writers had to contend was, that the 
words they were obliged to use carried with .them, 
primarily, not spiritual meanings, but sensuous ones. 
Our words, all of them, come not from the sky, but 
from the ground, and bear upon them still the marks 
of a coarse parentage. 

So fine a thought as that of " spirit " has to be 



BLESSED ARE THE PURE IN HEART. 207 

spoken by a word that never meant " spirit " till it 
had for a great while meant "breath." So that old 
words, and words, too, that are coarsely related, have 
to be educated to the carrying of finer and finer 
meanings ; exactly as God took the old rainbow that 
perhaps for a million years had been smiling down 
upon the green grass after rain — took the old rain- 
bow, spelled out with its gifted characters of color a 
better sentiment, and let it hang in the sky hencefor- 
ward as a visible covenant of grace ; so that what de- 
noted once only the smile of the sun after storm, de- 
notes to us now the smile of God after storm. And 
so words, too, especially when the Gospel teaches 
them, learn to absorb deeper truth and to become 
qualified to the office of a finer and finer symbolism. 

" Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see 
God." And this word " see " is one of those that 
have been disciplined into higher powers and apti- 
tudes. It reminds us at first, of course, of the body 
— the eye. It is there that all idea of sight begins to 
form itself. I would not quarrel with any one who 
expects that sometime God is going to be looked 
upon by us just as we look upon one another now. 
If a little child were to ask me what it means that we 
are going to see God, I should tell him that it means 
exactly what it says. Perhaps he would carry away 
a very material idea of the matter, but he will be a 
good deal nearer the truth than he would be after I 



208 BLESSED ARE THE PURE IN HEART. 

had tried to replace his idea by one too large for him 
to comprehend and too fine for him to appreciate. It 
is cruel to step on these little philosophies and little 
theologies of the children. They are just as true for 
them as ours are for us. Theirs might not be true 
for us ; ours certainly would not be true for them. 

If a child were to ask me if there would be harps 
and pianos — yes, and hobby-horses, in heaven, I 
would tell him " yes "; that is, if he was fond of 
those things ; because that would be the truest an- 
swer I could make him. What I should mean by it 
would be, that there would be that there which would 
just as nicely fit into his heavenly desires as the hob- 
by-horse does into his earthly desires. Heaven 
means satisfaction. And if it takes a hobby-horse 
to satisfy him now, and I tell him there will be noth- 
ing of that kind there, then to him I make heaven un- 
satisfactory and so falsify the fact. There is an un- 
truthful way of telling the truth and a truthful way 
of telling an untruth. 

This truthful way of telling an untruth is abun- 
dantly illustrated in the glowing imagery of the 
Apocalypse. We, some of us, possibly accept it as 
a literal statement of fact that the streets of the new 
city of God will be of gold and its walls of jasper and 
its gates a several pearl. Many of us — most of us, 
presumably — look upon the gorgeous description as 
being rather an accommodation to the weakness of 



BLESSED ARE THE PURE IN HEART. 209 

our thoughts and the limitedness of our experience, 
just as the hobby-horse was an accommodation to the 
limitations of the boy. 

And this forms one of the inimitable features of 
the Bible, that there is in it always just as much as 
we have wit, heart, and experience to find in it. It 
is valid exactly at the level of its reader — be he child 
or adult, scholarly or unlearned. It grows as we 
grow, rises as we rise, deepens as we deepen ; like the 
rainbow which incessantly slides along the sky to 
keep pace with our moving step and changing eye. 

So that if the little child were to ask me what it 
means that the pure in heart shall see God, I should 
tell him that it means exactly what it says, and leave 
him in the delicious confidence of a child-theology, 
that thinks of God as easily and certainly as of a toy 
or playmate ; while to the person of more adult com- 
prehension I should say that the seeing intended in 
our Beatitude, is something quite aside from the eye; 
that reference is made to sight only because that is 
the sense upon which we most rely for certitude ; 
and that our text means that, if a man has a clean 
heart, he is able to know God with a certainty and 
satisfaction as great as that with which his eye en- 
ables him to know the things that are about him. 
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. 

Now, unless I mistake the temper of the times, 
there is a longing among men, not only outside of 



2io BLESSED ARE THE PURE IN HEART. 

the Church, but to some degree inside of it, after 
more stalwart convictions of religious things ; a 
nearer approach to, a profounder consciousness of, 
and a more restful reliance upon, the Divine. Men 
get tired of mere believing. There is a great deal 
of what passes for religious experience that is pure 
dreariness ; a great deal of life-long waiting for sun- 
rise that never comes ; a great deal of what we en- 
courage ourselves by calling faith, that is only a des- 
perate and numb holding on. 

Such faith gets tired. Like Noah's dove it wearies 
with hovering and longs to be taken in. Dogged un- 
certainty is sadly unsustaining. We hunger for some- 
thing, for somebody that is real. Is there anything 
real beyond us, above us? and can we know it as 
real? We are willing to believe what God says, if 
only we can know that it is God who says it. We are 
willing to leave almost everything undecided, but 
there must be something that lies in us as a certainty 
and works in us as an assurance. 

It is in vain to tell men that in so great a matter 
as religion they ought to be willing to take everything 
on trust. It is just because religion is so great a mat- 
ter that it is impossible to take everything on trust. 
If we can not know something, we will not believe 
anything. There is no belief, with either merit or 
power in it, that does not lean on certainty. Faith 
is a blossom on the stalk of assurance. God is too 



BLESSED ARE THE P URE IN HE A RT. 2 1 1 



great a thing to be caught in the meshes of a syl- 
logism. There are no premises ample enough to give 
us God in the third term. Arguments to prove God 
entertain intellect, but there is in them no bread of 
life to the soul. A logical demonstration that under- 
neath are the everlasting arms, serves the purpose of 
a disquisition, but does not help a tired soul feel the 
sustaining pozver of those arms. It removes indecis- 
ion from the mind, very likely, but leaves a great sad 
"if " in the heart. 

In this lies something of the fascination of physi- 
cal science. In nature there are at least some things 
that are known. We can get standing-room there. 
Facts carry themselves there, in considerable num- 
bers, with an air of self-respect. They do not 
apologize for asking to be accepted and believed 
in. Perhaps science is too positive and affirmative 
sometimes, but part of that comes from knowing 
that it is under no necessity of reviewing its primary 
facts. 

Religious reviews are trying to prove to-day that 
God is, and that men may know Him. Scientific re- 
views do not feel required to utilize the best scholar- 
ship of the schools in demonstrating that the sun is, 
and that men may see it. Those primary facts are 
all settled. The scientists are not all of them sure 
about the courses of masonry that are being laid to- 
day. But they know that underneath them, at least, 



212 BLESSED ARE THE PURE IN HEART. 



are blocks of granite that will never have to be 
stirred. A part of the arrogance of science is only 
a sense of the security of its primary facts. Now, 
if the Church was as conscious of its primary fact, 
namely, God, as the schools are of theirs, then the 
Church, too, could abandon its attitude of defense 
and apology, and stand up with the attitude and 
move forward with the carriage of a commanding 
assurance and self-respect. 

Now, it is with an appreciation of all this that 
I have submitted to you our Lord's Beatitude: 
" Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see 
God." Remembering that sight stands for certainty, 
we have laid down for us in these words the royal 
highway to religious assurance. We are told here 
that if a man has a clean heart he is able to know 
God with a satisfaction as complete as that with 
which his eye enables him to know the things that 
are about him. " Blessed are the pure in heart, for 
they shall see God." 

And from this we gather that if to any of us God 
is not known as a certainty, it is not in Him that He 
is not seen, but in us that we do not see Him. There 
is something here, not there, that obscures Him. He 
is like the sun, which the earth sometimes fails to 
look upon, not because clouds invest the sun, but be- 
cause fogs enswathe the earth. " It is your sins that 
have hid His face from you," Isaiah wrote to the 



BLESSED ARE THE P URE IN HE A RT. 2 1 3 

ancient church. The pure heart is the transparent 
firmament of blue, up through which we get into 
God's great daylight. 

And it is to be attended to, that the word " pure " 
in our text carries upon it no meaning that is pe- 
culiar or limited. It designates the absence of no 
special sort of taint or tarnish, as of inchastity or the 
like ; but denotes instead, the absence of everything 
that can blur the heart's moral transparency. So that 
our text means, that if we do not see God and know 
Him as an assured fact, it is because there still nests 
in our heart some sort of unrelinquished unrighteous- 
ness. " The pure in heart shall see God." So that 
if the heavens are not open above us, and our firma- 
ment is not flooded with the light of a near and a 
known God, we gain from our Beatitude the Gospel's 
complete explanation of the matter. 

And it takes but a fleck of cloud to hide the sun ; 
and that last remaining unforsaken sin is sufficient to 
shut out from us the splendid presence of God. It 
was no accident that the man who could stand up in 
the presence of the Sanhedrim and say, " Men and 
brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before 
God until this day," was the man who received from 
God a revelation that has enkindled eighteen cent- 
uries with the light of its reflected splendor. The 
pure in heart shall see God. It lies as strictly in the 
nature of things as that sunlight should sift down 



214 BLESSED ARE THE PURE IN HEART. 

through an open sky and overspread the earth with 
beauty, warmth, and fertility. 

It needs but a single fleck of cloud to hide the sun. 
I am reminded here of a case that has passed under 
my own observation, that is exactly in point. A 
young man was converted, at least he showed some 
of the more formal symptoms of conversion. He 
rose for prayers, and he was prayed for. He applied 
for admission to the church and was accepted, and 
his name put upon the church -rolls. But there 
was in his Christianity no heartiness, and in his face 
none of that brightness and fervor that showed that 
he was walking in the near and dear light of God. 
It happened that he afterward attended an evening 
meeting in which the topic was, " The power of one 
unrelinquished sin to work the hidings of God's face." 
He came to a friend the next morning and rehearsed 
to him in all its details one act of restitution that he 
had neglected to perform, adding, " I have resolved 
to make the old matter right, whatever it may cost 
me in the way of money or humiliation." And 
though his eyes were full of tears, his face was all 
beaming with gladness. God fulfilled to him then 
and there His promise, " Bring ye all the tithes, and 
I will pour you out a blessing." His walk was hence- 
forward in the light. His very countenance from 
that time on betrayed the solidity of his inward as- 
surance, and he is now a power in the church where 



BLESSED ARE THE PURE IN HEART. 215 

he has membership, and in the midst of which he 
stands as a bright and shining light. " Blessed are 
the pure in heart, for they shall see God." 

As another illustration of the same, I want to add 
here a few lines from the Contemporary Review. 
They are from an article upon Horace Bushnell ; and 
in the article the writer is quoting from a sermon of 
Bushnell's on the " Dissolving of Doubts." It is well 
that you should understand at the outset that the 
story, which Bushnell here tells in his sermon, is 
probably only a passage from his own life and experi- 
ence. He goes on to describe a young man (and now 
I give you Bushnell's exact words), " Clear of all the 
vices, having a naturally active-minded, inquiring 
habit, never meaning to get away from the truth, 
who has yet relapsed into such doubt as to find that 
he has nearly lost the conviction of God, and can not, 
if he would, say with emphasis that God exists. Such 
a one pacing his chamber, comes some day suddenly 
upon the question — Is there then no truth that I do 
believe ? Yes, there is one ; there is a distinction of 
right and wrong, that I never doubted, and can see 
not how I can. Nay, I am even quite sure of this. 
Then forthwith starts up the question — Have I ever 
taken the principle of right for my law? Have I 
ever thrown my life out on it, to become all that it 
requires of me ? No matter what becomes of my 
difficulties, if I can not take a first principle so inevi- 



2 1 6 BLESSED ARE THE P URE IN HEAR T. 



tably true and live in it. Here, then, will I begin. If 
there is a God, as I rather hope than dimly believe 
there is, then He is a right God. If I have lost Him 
in wrong, perhaps I shall find Him in right. Will He 
not help me, or, perchance, even be discovered to 
me ? Then he prays to the dim God so dimly felt. 
It is an awfully dark prayer in the first look of it ; 
but it is the truest and best that he can ; the better 
and more true that he puts no orthodox colors on it ; 
and the prayer and the vow are so profoundly meant 
that his soul is borne up with God's help, as it were 
by some unseen chariot, and permitted to see the 
opening of heaven. He rises, and it is as if he had 
gotten wings. The whole sky is luminous about him. 
It is the morning of a new eternity. After this all 
troublesome doubt of God's reality is gone. A being 
so profoundly felt must inevitably be." 

The writer goes on to add : " We feel certainly 
that Dr. Bushnell was here describing his own experi- 
ence. He was preaching in the chapel of Yale Col- 
lege, and after the above description occurs this 
bracketed passage in his sermon : [' There is a story 
lodged in a little bedroom of one of these dormi- 
tories, which, I pray God, His recording angel may 
note, allowing it never to be lost.'] " 

That is the sixth Beatitude submitted to practical 
test, " Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall 
see God." God does not leave Himself unrevealed to 



BLESSED ARE THE PURE IN HEAR T. 217 

the man who seeks after Him in the. appointed way. 
And it is only when we get where we know God as a 
fact, and feel Him as a certainty that is beyond im- 
peachment, that anything that can properly be called 
religion really begins. All our philosophy is well 
enough as philosophy. All our dogma may be cor- 
rect enough as dogma. Pictures of the sun may 
answer excellently well as pictures, but they give no 
light. Theories of God may be wrought out with 
consummate acuteness and delicacy, but they work 
in us no assurance and minister to us no comfort. 
God, not as a topic that we can ponder upon, but as 
a personal presence into which we can come, and 
find ourselves gifted and assured, is what you and I 
actually want, and what we can not be satisfied with- 
out obtaining. 

And our Beatitude lays out for us the avenue to 
this satisfaction. God is visible to the heart that is 
clean. We can call it seeing God, or walking with 
God, or being hid with Christ in God. The phrase- 
ology matters nothing so long as the one deep fact 
is there. And then all our suspense ceases. Our 
life is filled with wonderful composure. We have 
touched solid rock. We can believe largely now 
because we know profoundly. The last ingredient 
of infidelity is cleansed from our faith. We can bear 
burdens that are heavy because we have certain foot- 
ing. How high we shall build will depend ; but one 



2i8 BLESSED ARE THE PURE IN HEART. 



thing is settled : the foundation is fixed, and that 
will not have to be stirred any more. We know the 
Lord, and all that remains to us is to go on to know 
the Lord. 

And armed with a faith in which is no taint of in- 
sincerity, the words with which we appeal to others 
become also charged with strong and availing persua- 
sion. There is nothing that convinces like convic- 
tion. " That man will go far ; he believes every 
word he says," said Mirabeau of Robespierre. And 
all the griefs and crosses of life will then press upon 
us less painfully, when, with the olden man of God, 
we have learned to endure as seeing Him who is in- 
visible. 

" Blessed," then, " are the pure in heart, for they 
shall see God." The dear Lord help us to let go 
from our hearts the last unrelinquished uncleanness — 
help us to bring into His storehouse that last un- 
gathered tithe, and so lead us forth into the bright- 
ness, and the strength, and the beautiful peace of 
His known and intimate presence. 



XV. 



NO MORE SEA. 

" And I saw a new heaven and a new earth ; for 
the first heaven and the first earth were passed 
away, and there was no more sea." — Revela- 
tion xxi. i. 

"And there was no more sear The expression is 
perplexing. Scholarship has been tried by it. The 
commentators treat it tentatively, and propose for it 
solutions that are hesitant and discrepant. The per- 
plexity is not that the New Jerusalem is to be shore- 
less and sealess. Our ignorance of future conditions 
is so entire that hardly any single fact given in in- 
spired description would be a surprise. The per- 
plexity is rather that such a feature should by Script- 
ure, most of all by St. John, be noted, remarked 
upon. It is not the kind of fact that we look into 
Scripture to find ; and having found it, if read liter- 
ally, we are hardly made the wiser or the better by it. 

The Bible is not a manual of geography, either of 
the old earth we are living upon, or of the new earth 
we hope to live upon. About such facts the New 

Testament, in particular, is uniformly reticent ; de- 

(219) 



220 



NO MORE SEA. 



.signedly and scrupulously reticent. We have noth- 
ing to do at present with the precise conditions under 
which life in the future world is to be administered. 
Curiosity, of course, is on the alert, but our Scriptures 
distinguish themselves from all other sacred books 
so called, by declining to satisfy curiosity. It might 
not even be to our advantage to know that there is 
a future life, could the sanctities of the present life 
be guaranteed otherwise. What little knowledge we 
have of the future is for the sake of its effects upon 
the present. " Take no thought for the morrow " 
reaches a great way. The only thing needing to be 
wrought in us is daily preparedness, so that when- 
ever the future may come, and in whatever shape it 
may overtake us, it may find us where we can be 
taken into it. with ease, and carried through it with 
surety and with blessing. 

And still John tells us, " There shall be no more 
sea." This fact can be read physically. It would be 
the easiest reading ; but perhaps not the only one, 
nor the most satisfying and helpful one. Rendered 
physically, it would neither satisfy curiosity nor offer 
stimulus. It would add nothing practically to our 
knowledge of the future, because we know nothing 
of the other physical conditions with which this fact 
of sealessness would stand in relation ; and no fact 
means anything when standing alone. It neither im- 
presses us intellectually nor stirs us emotionally. 



NO MORE SEA. 



221 



Only the fraction of a thing, the minority of a thing, 
is in itself ; the majority of it is in its relationship 
and accompaniments. So that if I am told that the 
new earth is to be all granite or all sand — all conti- 
nent, or all ocean, some related feature will have to 
be added before that knowledge will become availa- 
ble or that fact appreciable. No fact means anything 
when standing alone. And still John says, " There 
shall be no more sea," and leaves the fact there, un- 
supported and unexplained. 

Read physically, this statement also seems foreign 
to the genius of the apostle who makes it, and out 
of consonance with his temper. The study of John's 
gospel, letters, and visions has acquainted us with 
the quality of his thought, and it is doubtful if John 
would ever have appreciated a purely physical fact of 
the new heaven or new earth, or if God would ever 
have attempted to run such a fact in the mold 
of such a mind. It is a truth of acoustics, you are 
aware, that no ear can appreciate as tone any sound 
which lies either above or below its own distinctive 
gamut. Each ear has its own gamut, and, spiritually, 
St. John had his. And it is easier to believe that 
God always adapts His revelations to the quality of 
the spirit He is using, and suits His music to the 
temper and compass of the genius upon which He is 
playing. 

John, it is true, tells us that in heaven there will 



222 



NO MORE SEA. 



be no tears. But that is because tears mean sorrow. 
And he tells us that the holy city will have no need 
of the sun, neither of the moon to shine in it ; but 
not, however, as a part of the astronomy of the new 
earth, but to declare the finer light with which its 
firmament will be suffused when " the glory of God 
shall lighten it, and the Lamb shall be the light 
thereof." And he adds, that he saw no temple 
therein, not, however, as an isolated fact of archi- 
tecture, but because temples and churches spring 
from the exigencies of men and not from the needs 
of God, and will have no farther part to perform, 
therefore, when we have learned to worship God as a 
Spirit, and the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb 
are become our sufficient temple and our alone sanct- 
uary. 

His material allusions are made in the interest of 
spiritual references ; and John, with every nerve 
quivering with quick responsiveness to the spiritual 
realities of man and God and the Eternal City, could 
hardly have appreciated the barren and unflowering 
fact that there was to be no water in that city or 
about it, and would only painfully have burdened his 
record with it had the communication been divinely 
made. So that the question still confronts us, What 
spiritual fact is intended by the apostle in his state- 
ment of the sealessness and shorelessness of the New 
City of God ? 



NO MORE SEA. 



223 



Every man in conceiving the things which are 
eternal has to think in terms of time : and in conceiving 
the things which are celestial, has to think in terms 
of earth. In our most spiritual moods we can not get 
away from our common surroundings or from our 
every-day vocabulary. We have only one language 
in which to phrase present experience and heavenly 
anticipatings. And when John tries to describe the 
streets of the New City of God, the best he can do 
is to say that they are of gold, the walls of jasper, 
and the gates of pearl ; and celestial beauty, in his 
mouth, becomes no more than the finest earthly 
beauty, with which he was conversant, pushed to its 
extreme ; terrestrial beauty enlarged and flung upon 
the sky. The finest pictures which our thought paints 
of the things which are unseen and eternal, are done 
in tints gathered from off a pallet of earthly color. 

An illustration is furnished in this same book of 
Revelation : John was an exile on the barren and 
cruel little island of Patmos. And his months of 
loneliness and separation there had familiarized him 
with the multitudinous voice of the sea, as it beat 
about the bars and dashed against the doors of 
his little prison island. And when he comes to 
describe the Son of man seen in holy vision, he says 
of Him that His voice was as the sound of many 
waters — a quotation from the sea. And when he de- 
scribes the mighty Hallelujah that answered back to 



224 NO MORE SEA. 

the voice from out the throne, he says of it, that it 
was as the voice of many waters ; and the stormy 
yEgean lent its tumultuous murmur to describe the 
utterance of God ; and the finest pictures which St. 
John's thought painted of the things that are unseen 
and eternal, were done in tints gathered from off a 
pallet of earthly color. 

But the forms not only which describe heaven, but 
the fruitions also which, to us, compose heaven, have 
their basis in what is earthly, and are hardly more 
than present longings satisfied, present comforts ex- 
panded, earthly fruitions standing tiptoe. If we are 
weary, then heaven means rest ; if we are sinsick, then 
heaven means holiness ; if we are lonely, then heaven 
means reunion with the loved ones that have gone 
on before ; if we are girt about with difficulties, ham- 
pered with weaknesses, insulated by infirmity of any 
kind, then heaven means recall from exile, and eman- 
cipation into completest liberty. If any kind of bar- 
rier invests us, we think that in heaven that barrier 
will be erased. 

In the sailor-boy's dream of home, no buffeting 
waves or tempestuous sea divide longer between him 
and the old hearth-stone. For the time being, there 
is with him no more sea. And could you and I have 
stepped down onto little sea-locked Patmos, with the 
yearning apostle severed by the yEgean from the 
friends he loved, and from the glorious activities to 



NO MORE SEA. 225 

which he aspired, we might have found in those 
waters of imprisonment the finest commentary upon 
our text, and have detected in them the symbol of 
all those human limitations which shall no longer 
hedge between the soul and its object, when once we 
are come into the sealess city of God. 

This, I think, gives us a part at least of the mean- 
ing of the singular utterance of our text, " And 
there was no more sea." It is an instance in which 
John, in an inspired moment, does that which we 
also do in our uninspired moments — build heaven 
out of the material of present desire and exigency. 
Whatever we find here that makes us glad, we think 
will be repeated in heaven on a scale that is larger 
and in a quality that is finer. And whatever we find 
here that makes us sad, we think will drop out of the 
experience to be had by us in the New City of God. 
Heaven is earth with its unpleasantnesses omitted, 
and all its best things led forth into perfect blossom. 
We conceive it so ; John, the inspired John, con- 
ceived it so. There no thraldom would longer hold 
him from his object, no exile should insulate him 
from his home, no ^Egean should divide between 
him and the field of his labor and his love. " And I 
saw a new heaven and a new earth ; for the first 
heaven and the first earth were passed away ; and 
there was no more sea." 

Now, my friends, there are many phases of life, 
10* 



226 



NO MORE SEA. 



many limitations by which we are hedged in, upon 
which this sentiment of our text, and of the apoca- 
lypse at large, falls with a singular power of stimu- 
lus and of comfort ; so that it might almost be said 
that the more closely these cords of limitation are 
bound about us, and the more completely these 
waters of separation sunder us, and exile us from our 
soul's object, the more richly freighted with fruition 
does the new and the sealess city become to us ; so 
that even all our infirmities become as ladder-rounds 
along which we climb into a higher, broader, and 
more beauteous prospect ; and the dissatisfactions o£, 
the old earth only make the satisfactions of the new 
earth the more delectable. 

There are in the first place our physical limitations, 
by which we are so many of us so closely and pain- 
fully walled. Only one with whom sickness and 
enfeeblement are a constant part of life can realize 
justly the perfection of a heaven in which there is no 
disease and no pain. Physical disability of any kind 
puts a clog upon all our powers of achieving, and 
throws a shadow over all our seasons of rejoicing. 
The body, freighted with ailment and decrepitude, 
stands always between us and our soul's best pur- 
pose. Much of our severity and acidity is only in- 
digestion become a mental fact, and a good deal of 
our solicitude and distrust are no more than an en- 
feebled condition of the blood telling upon the spirit. 



NO MORE SEA. 2 2J 

The body made to be the helpmeet of the soul is 
become its adversary. 

Much of sin is the offspring of the body. This 
seems to be hinted at in the story of Eden. You 
remember Paul's description of the war waging be- 
tween the mind and the members. It was the apos- 
tle that was stricken and undermined by bodily infir- 
mity, that has depicted the most glowingly the power 
and blessedness of the bodily resurrection. There is 
reason in this. It is only another instance, like those 
we find in Revelation, of building heaven's joy out 
of the material of to-day's exigency and limitation. 
That may have been one object of St. Paul's thorn 
in the flesh, to qualify him to appreciate more justly 
the joy that would become man's when restored into 
colleagueship with a redeemed body. 

The body needs saving as much as the soul. There 
is no true life and no certain immortality where rec- 
oncilement has not been wrought between body and 
mind, as well as between mind and God. Redemp- 
tion and immortality are as much of the body as of 
the mind. The new body does not play as large a 
part in the theology of the nineteenth century as it 
did in that of the first. We slur over the relation in 
which Christ's resurrection stands to our physical 
renewal. Easter morning means also that the time 
is coming when there shall be no crippled members, 
no days of weariness and nights of pain, no arms that 



228 



NO MORE SEA. 



are palsied, no eyes that are blind, no ears that are 
deaf, no physical limitations between the soul and its 
object, no more sea in the New City of God. 

Then there are our mental limitations. Men want 
to know, but they do not know how to know. They 
feel the beauty of truth, but are like the child look- 
ing up into the sky, and feeling the warm light, but 
unable to reach the sun out of which it flows. A 
broad firmament divides between the child and the 
sun it desires to handle ; a broad sea divides between 
us and the things we wish to know. Almost the 
sum of our earthly knowledge is to know how little 
can be known ; and that we know only faultily and 
partially. We suppose a good deal, but know very 
little. Only here and there the rock perforates to 
the surface. Almost all our opinions are provisional. 
Thy are good until something better is found to take 
their place. Our philosophy is tentative. Thinking 
is trying experiments mostly. We think different 
things at different times, and no two men think the 
same thing, as no two eyes see the same rainbow. 
Like a man shut in a ravine, almost all we see is our 
horizon. Philosophy means only love of the truth. 
It does not mean attainment of the truth ; a fit word 
justly chosen. 

And then most of that which we do know is of 
things that are going to last but a little ; as it were, 
a gathering of wilting flowers. All knowledge is 



NO MORE SEA. 229 

transient that is of things that are transient, as the 
splendor fades from off the hills as the sun passes 
under the west. So that " whether there be knowl- 
edge it shall vanish away, for we know in part. But 
when that which is perfect is come, then that which 
is in part shall be done away." " Then shall we know 
even as also we are known "; our wall of mental lim- 
itation shall be broken down, our exile repealed, the 
island made continuous with the continent, and no 
more sea in the New City of God. 

There are also our moral limitations. " Blessed 
are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, 
for they shall be filled." Shall be. It's a thing of 
by and by. Holiness is yonder, and there is a great 
gulf fixed. Peter said unto Him, " Lord, why can 
not I follow Thee now?" An excellent discourse 
has recently been given to the public by a Boston 
clergyman on " The withheld completions of life." 
" Lord, why can not I follow Thee now ? And Jesus 
answered, Whither I go thou canst not follow me 
now, but thou shalt follow me afterward." We can 
abstain from acts of sin, but do not succeed in becom- 
ing clean through and through. 

Perhaps you have ceased sinning. You have not 
ceased wanting to sin. The serpent keeps finding its 
way back into the garden. Our hands are clean, pos- 
sibly, but there are the traces still of inward stain. 
" When I would do good, evil is present with me." 



230 NO MORE SEA. 

There is some sin still that easily besets ; still some 
one remaining chord in our hearts that vibrates at 
the touch of evil. The old drift is not exhausted, 
the old momentum is not expended. Our wishes 
outrun our attainments. Our bodies hold us back ; 
our past holds us back ; our surroundings detain us. 
We want to be perfect, as our Father which is in 
heaven is perfect. We want it should become our 
nature to do right. But we are at sea, and holiness 
is a continent lying low down on our horizon. But 
blessed are they that even hunger and thirst after right- 
eousness, for they shall be filled. It lies in the future, 
but it is a sure fact of the future, and our wall of 
moral separation shall be broken down, our exile re- 
pealed, the island made continuous with the conti- 
nent, and no more sea in the New City of God. 

And then, how strangely we are isolated, and how 
painfully we are insulated from the dear ones that 
have gone into the future before us. No word of 
tidings comes to us from across the sea. By night 
we send up deep, strong thoughts into the spirit 
land, but we feel no answer, and our sigh dies away 
among the silence and the stars. Not one dear word 
has passed between us, since away back in the months 
and the years the fluttering spirit breathed its last, 
long good-bye, and looked its last love-look out of 
eyes that were clouding and closing. And the hand 
fell, and the pulse faltered ; and it was done ; and the 



NO MORE SEA. 23 1 

spirit was fled, the spirit that was woven into ours as 
with meshes of steel. And now, not one lisp out of 
the sky, not one whisper out of the night, to tell us 
and comfort us. Mystic orphanage of spirits that 
are filial ; mystic divorce of spirits that are wedded. 
And the years move on. We remember them, and 
they remember us, we think. They worship there 
and we worship here, — a broken chorus rendering one 
psalm. They with eyes from which all the tears have 
been tenderly wiped, and with faces beautiful with 
looking upon the front of God ; we with eyes all tear- 
bedimmed, stumbling over the roughness of life, 
wondering, hoping, and waiting ; waiting till our ex- 
ile shall be repealed, our little island of loneliness and 
expectation be made continuous with the continent 
of the redeemed, and no more sea in the New City 
of God. 

And so we will not go through life repining at its 
deprivations, or crushed by its limitations. Our sky 
is still gilded with the bow of promise. And sad ex- 
perience and glorious expectation shall mingle them- 
selves together to make us steadfast and brave. And 
though this life of tired bodies, of weary minds, of 
sinsick souls, of bitter bereavements, be to us a very 
Patmos of exile, still, as was St. John's so may our 
little Patmos be one in which the voice of the Lord 
shall sound down upon us ; in which the revelation 



232 



NO MORE SEA. 



of His glory shall come into our souls ; and in which 
we shall be enveloped in the close folds of His con- 
tinuous and sustaining presence. 

And so will we move on, with tears in our eyes 
perhaps, but with strength in our hearts, till our ex- 
ile is repealed, and our citizenship begun, in the New 
City of God, — a city that is sunless, for that God is 
the light thereof ; templeless, for that the Lamb is 
the sanctuary of it ; and without sea, for that no tide 
shall sever longer between the soul and the beautiful 
objects of its desire and of its love. 



XVI. 



HEAVEN. 

" And I, John, saw the Holy City, new Jerusalem, 
coming down from God, out of heaven, pre- 
pared as a bride adorned for her husband." — 
Rev. xxi. 2. 

The solemn beauty and majestic sweetness of these 
closing chapters of the Holy Word, set the seal of 
authenticity to the whole collective Testament of 
Jesus Christ. They are the benediction after prayer, 
the farewell beams lingering among the clouds when 
the day is done ; the melody still trembling along the 
wires after the song is sung. 

These chapters, and this twenty-first chapter, set 
us down at a point of splendid moment in the tire- 
less procession of the ages. Another act in the sub- 
lime tragedy of event has been played to its close, 
and another link has clasped into its companion link 
in the endless chain of forever and forever. 

Human history easily falls into eras. These eras 
combined compose the sum of time. I think there 

are also eras of God that add themselves together to 

(233) 



234 HEAVEN. 

form duration everlasting, history eternal. One such 
stupendous era I find ushering itself in with the pref- 
atory clause of God's Holy Word, " In the begin- 
ning God created the heavens and the earth." Who 
shall recount the splendors of that transcendent mo- 
ment? God breaking in upon the eternal silence 
with His infinite word, and filling up the shoreless 
and pathless spaces with His infinite deed ! Another 
such era of God I find entering with the dying 
words of the Son of God, " It is finished "; and the 
trembling earth, and the rending rocks, and the open- 
ing graves, celebrated with solemn rites the passing 
of the old and the incoming of the new — the new link 
of God in the endless chain of forever and forever. 

And still the years set onward and the centuries 
forge forward. In this era of Christ, inaugurated by 
the words uttered upon the Cross, we are now ad- 
vanced well on toward two thousand years; only a 
few furlongs of time forward of us stands the eight- 
eenth century stone. One after another we are fall- 
ing by the way, but the race never dies and history 
never rests. We have walked in this era of Christ 
sufficiently long to understand very well its quality 
and import. It is an era in which the destroying 
agencies of Satan wage indecisive warfare with the 
redemptive energies of the Son of God. 

Dating from the Cross, it is the era of the Cross, 
the era of apostles, martyrs, witnesses, the era of the 



HEAVEN. 235 

baptism of blood — a period of encounter, of defeat, 
of victory deferred — a period in which there rests 
above the cross no crown, but only certain faintly 
distinguishable threads of light that we know are be- 
ing woven into a crown. It is, like a portion of that 
which preceded it, an era in which there are hearts 
that are burdened, and lives that are tired. It is an 
era of hope postponed, of disappointment forestalled. 
It is an era in which almost everybody is familiar 
with pain, every household intimate with death, and 
every eye acquainted with tears. 

In this we are not masking the era in the disguise 
of our own sallow imaginings, but only surveying the 
era in the pensive lineaments she so natively wears. 
We are thus enabled to understand what it is that 
this era of the Cross represents, although quite with- 
out means for ascertaining the era's duration. We 
only know that the same wise beneficence that initia- 
ted it will guide it to its consummation. It was born 
on Calvary, and where and when it will expire God 
knows. Perhaps its setting will be as far off in the 
years that lie to the west of us, as was the rising of 
the preceding era far away among the years of the 
great Orient. 

But John was " in the Spirit on the Lord's day," 
and, girt about by the ^Egean, in his lonely island of 
exile, the soul of this prophet of the new covenant 
fell to pondering the problems locked up in the fast- 



236 



HE A VEN. 



nesses of the future. And his eye was unsealed, and 
he saw the things that were to come, as you and I 
have eyes this morning to see the things that are 
past. The present no longer pressed its line of par- 
tition between what has been and what shall be. 
Distinctions of tense (that constitutional infirmity of 
the human intellect) ceased for a season to blur and 
falsify his mental vision. His thought had power 
given it to outrun the slow, toilsome tread of the 
centuries ; and while his body abode upon Patmos, 
his spirit was wandering hither and thither through- 
out the great temple of God, moving up and down 
the aisles of the ages, till it paused and beheld another 
" It is done," closing up the story of the blood-bap- 
tized, tear-bedimmed era of the Cross ; ushering in, in 
its stead, still another period that reaches way out 
into the times that lie beyond the shore of the re- 
vealed Word of God. 

It is at this point where the era of the Cross stops, 
and all things are again made new, that our text sets 
us down. Standing there with John, the things which 
shall fill up the final act of the present tragic era are 
all seen as done, and we are invited, in imagination, to 
take our place there with him on the farther shore of 
the broad tumultuous ocean of years that flows be- 
tween us and the beautiful continent wherein shall 
be built the New Jerusalem, the City of God come 
down from heaven. 



HE A VEN. 



237 



It is a singular and a thrilling experience coming 
to every one, I imagine, near the close of his first 
voyage across the Atlantic, when he first sights the 
coast-line of the other continent All our associa- 
tions and acquaintance have been with the country 
we have left. America has been to us the only actual 
continent upon the globe — all others have been ideal. 
And so as we move out of Boston or New York, 
seaward, Europe-ward, Europe is only a great incon- 
ceivable somewhere lying beyond the sea ; all the 
efforts that our mind makes to comprehend it and to 
realize it are full of infirmity, uncertainty, and dis- 
trust, and our thoughts are steady and assured only 
in their references to the country which lies back of 
us; and this attitude of the mind continues to be 
maintained. We reach mid -ocean, we pass mid- 
ocean, and still every thought of our situation geo- 
graphically starts with the American coast and brings 
up in a point of interrogation. We come to the 
morning of the last day of our voyage, and as it appears 
to us Europe is still the continent across the sea, and 
we are, we know not where exactly, but somewhere 
out from New York. But every delusion is moving 
toward the moment of its dissipation, and the first 
glimpse of the rising, emerging coast-line of the other 
country practically translates us, in an instant of time, 
over an interval of three thousand miles, and our 
thought, building itself up now from the port into 



238 HEAVEN, 

which we are upon the point of entering, looks back- 
ward over the weary leagues we have traversed, and 
feels for the first time that it is no longer Europe, 
but America, that is the continent beyond the sea. 

How full of thrill and of thought unspeakable 
must be the soul, when, awaking amid the realities 
of the eternal world, it feels for the first time that it 
is no longer eternity but time that is the continent 
beyond the sea ; life spent, death passed, and the 
everlasting begun. It was into this entrance-haven 
of the eternal world that the prophet of the apoca- 
lypse was come when he beheld the Holy City, the 
Jerusalem of God. 

And now, " it is done." The old has given place 
to the new, the era of the Cross has yielded to the 
era of the crown. The dead, small and great, have 
been gathered before the great white throne, and 
judged out of the open books, each man according to 
his works. The sea has given up its dead, the grave 
surrendered its tenant ; death and the grave abol- 
ished ; and whosoever was not found written in the 
Book of Life, cast into the lake of fire. Before the 
face of Him who sat upon the throne, the heavens 
and the earth were fled away, and a new heaven and 
a new earth ushered in, to be the abode of the sons and 
daughters of God. " And I, John, saw the Holy City, 
new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, 
prepared as a bride adorned for her husband." 



HE A VEN. 239 

With the advent of this new era of the Heavenly 
City, God himself steps down into new and dearer 
intimacy with His children. He is no longer their 
inaccessible " Sky-Father "; henceforth He tents in 
the midst of His children. " And I heard a great 
voice out of heaven saying, Behold the tabernacle 
of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, 
and He will be ' God-with-them,' their God." It is 
in the Heavenly City that the old Emmanuel prom- 
ise comes first to its perfect fulfilling ; " and He 
shall be 'God-with-them.' " 

In the beautiful homes that shall throng the glori- 
ous city, no twilight hours of sad foreboding, or of 
lonely remembering, shall intrude upon the glad 
music of the satisfied and restful spirit ; for there 
shall be no more sorrow nor crying, for God himself 
shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. And over 
its streets of gold, and out through its gates of pearl , 
no gathering of bereaved ones shall file in still pro- 
cession, and group around an open grave in service 
of deep interment and long farewell, for " the grave 
has been cast into the lake of fire," " and there shall 
be no more death." A city in whose homes there 
is no pang, and without whose gates there is no 
God's-acre ! 

" No dread of wasting sickness, 
No thought of ache or pain, 
No fretting hours of weakness, 
Shall mar our peace again. 



240 



HE A YEN 



No death our homes o'ershading 

Shall e'er our harps unstring, 
For all is life unfading 

In presence of our King." 

It is another feature of the Heavenly City that in 
it there shall be no sin. Inwardly re-created into the 
likeness of the divine Spirit, outwardly renewed by 
the power of a holy resurrection, we shall thus enter 
into our glorified citizenship thoroughly reconstructed 
into harmony with the divine arrangements and holy 
appointments of our celestial estate. 

Before we enter there the sad tutelage of life will 
have taught us something of the exceeding unsanc- 
tity of sin and of the ineffable beauty of holiness. 
Sin, in all its diversity of form — murder, adultery, 
idolatry, untruth — will have been cast beyond the 
walls of jasper into the lake of fire. Sin, in all its 
deep concealment and dark defilement, will have 
been plucked from our bosoms by the power of 
God's Spirit and washed into whiteness by the power 
of God's blood. And, besides all this, we shall be 
living in the dear companionship of the great pater- 
nal Presence, whom to feel and to love is to obey. 
And, intrenched in this fourfold security, we shall 
abide in unshaken holiness amid the splendid de- 
lights and sublime activities that shall throng and 
compact the great forever of our citizenship in the 
Jerusalem of God. 

Measured in terms of years, it is a long way from 



HEAVEN. 241 

the old Paradise of Eden to the new Paradise come 
down from God out of heaven ; but the vastness of 
the years is only justly commensurate with the vast- 
ness of the transition from the faltering characterless- 
ness of man primeval to the founded holiness of the 
citizens that shall people the City of God. 

And then " there shall be no night there, and they 
need no candle, for the Lord God giveth them light." 
There shall be no ignorance of a sort to mislead us, 
and no perplexities of a kind to baffle us, for the 
mind of God shall be in us, and our thoughts suf- 
fused with a divine irradiation. And we shall be 
swift to know the truth, for that our wills will be 
nimble to do the truth, for there His servants shall 
serve Him, and His name shall be in their foreheads. 
There is no candle so full of ministration, no sun so 
replete with guidance, as is the inward life of one 
whose heart is so lifted in filial service as to catch 
the light that beams from off the front of God. 

And the prophet further adds to his description of 
the City by saying : " And I saw no temple therein ; 
for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the 
temple of it." It seems upon the surface of it a 
strange omission that the City come down from 
heaven should be a city without church or taber- 
nacle. All our earthly experience of things divine 
is more or less intimately bound up with chosen 
spots and selected days, temples and Sabbaths. And 



242 HEA VEN. 

yet, after all, as our thought enters into the matter 
more deeply, how wondrously is this feature specified 
by John felt to be in accord with the innermost sense 
of the devout and reverent spirit ! How are we not 
chafed sometimes by the rude mechanics of our re- 
ligion that runs its coarse partition through the days, 
walling between time holy and time unholy (six days 
secular, one day sabbatical), and that drags the sur- 
veyor's insensate chain along the earth, to separate 
ground that is consecrate from ground that is profane. 
And how finest of all fine fulfilment is this untem= 
pled city of God, of the prophecy of the Lord spoken 
to the woman at the base of temple-clad Gerizim, 
" Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall 
neither in this mountain nor yet at Jerusalem wor- 
ship the Father. The hour cometh when the true 
worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit. God 
is a Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship 
Him in spirit." 

As already discovered, it is characteristic of this 
new era of the crown, and of the heavenly Jerusalem, 
that everything is clothed with the form and instinct 
with the spirit of a bright and beauteous renewal. 
All is new, but not new in such a way as to be bewil- 
dering. There shall be new heavens, but they are 
going to be heavens still ; a new earth, but an earth 
nevertheless ; a new city, holy, and descended from 
God out of heaven, but a city notwithstanding. 



HEA VEN. 243 

I should prefer to remain here, and never go into 
the golden-streeted city of the redeemed, if I did not 
believe that, in the first dawn of my celestial con- 
sciousness, there would rise within me a great placid 
sense of home, whose surroundings should be com- 
posed in a partial measure of the glorified intimacies 
of the earthly life, and its spiritual music composed in 
the same key and along the same gamut in which 
are wrought the purest and finest harmonies of the 
present. We praise God for the confidence produced 
in us by the glowing but familiar imagery of the 
apocalypse, that no soul shall awake in the beautiful 
home whither the sons and daughters of God are 
tending, only to have its eyes dazzled and blinded by 
the splendors of God, and the brightness of the jas- 
per walls, or its spirit clouded over with the shadow 
of a vast aloneness. 

We can not attend to St. John's description of the 
coming city without noticing how singularly that 
description harmonizes with the Gospel doctrine of 
the soul's rebirth. The more we study those precious 
final chapters, the more we feel that all the threads 
of Bible truth are in them gathered into one golden 
knot. It is a thought that aspires to rule the minds 
of men, that the tendency of things naturally and 
universally is toward betterment ; that things not 
only, but men as well, both in their individual and 
associate character, tend to rise into a finer life and 



244 HEA VEN - 

nobler organization under the constraint of the inher- 
ent and unaided energies of their being. This doc- 
trine, disparaged by the whole tenor of biography, 
from that of apostatizing Adam forward and down- 
ward, encounters its personal and flat contradiction 
at the Hps of Jesus Christ, " Ye must be born again "; 
which signifies to us, that cultivate native endow- 
ments as we will, and nurse them as we may, by no 
system of tutelage will a son of Adam graduate into 
a son of God. The roots of our human nature are 
cast in the ground ; the roots of our divine nature 
must knit into the sky. 

It is the doctrine of the Gospel, that sainted man 
is not built up from below, but built down from 
above ; and it is the coincident doctrine of the apoca- 
lypse, that sainted, glorified society is not formed, 
developed, and matured from beneath, but comes 
down from God out of heaven. These relations that 
we call conjugal, parental, filial, are of the ground, 
and no improvement of them will transmute them 
into the familyhood of heaven. This organization 
that we call social is of £he earth, and no transfigura- 
tion of it will refine it into the society of heaven. 
Redeemed society, in its structure, organization, ad- 
ministration, will be achieved by no evolution up- 
ward from the monarchies or the commonwealths of 
man's originating, but by purely divine establishment, 
when the old Jerusalem founded upon the rock-ridge 



HEA VEN. 245 

of Judea shall fade away before the new Jerusalem 
come down out of the bosom of God. 

And now I invite you to notice very briefly in clos- 
ing, that the consummating thought of God's Word 
is seen thus to be not the salvation of men, but the 
salvation of man ; not redeemed individuals, but a 
glorified city. We understand very well what the 
word " city " imports. It stands to us as no barren 
sum of separate individualities, but as a vast, subtly 
organized complex — earnest, intense, impassioned, 
gathering into one great collective life all special 
lives in mingling contribution — animated by one co- 
alition of thought, constrained by one conspiracy of 
desire, and energizing in one co-operant endeavor. 
That is a city, and as much finer than any citizen 
that has membership in it, as is the tree finer than 
any atom of fibre present in the tree ; as is the body 
fairer than any member that helps to compose the 
body ; as is the great flashing commonwealth of stars 
that people the sky, more sublime than the separate 
pebble that rolls and crushes beneath your feet. 

And now, such a city glorified, a city come down 
out of heaven, whose administration is divine, its or- 
ganization wrought in God as the centre of its being, 
and the fund of its life and power, that is the great 
final goal of the Scriptures of God, the unsailed and 
unsounded sea, into which empty themselves all the 
streams of power and currents of influence that 



246 HEA VEN. 

drain the uplands, and traverse the lowlands over all 
the territory of the Holy Word, through all the do- 
main of nations and ages historic. 

And now, my dear friends, one after another the 
sons and daughters of God are moving out of our 
midst, and passing onward, and upward to the open 
portals of the Holy City. From the North and the 
South, and the East and the West, are gathering the 
sainted host, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, 
out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and 
nation, passing the gates of pearl, and mingling to- 
gether, brother with brother, sister with sister, friend 
with friend, within the walls of jasper, upon the 
streets of gold ; and above each portal of the many- 
gated city is inscribed in the dear handwriting of 
God, " The Spirit and the bride say, ' Come ' / " 



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